- Massachusetts’s federal court found that a unit of Deutsche Bank AG failed to vet some residential mortgage-backed securities, which mislead Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.
- US Bank filed an amended complaint claiming that Citigroup Global Markets Realty Corp. and CitiMortgage Inc. in suit over bad mortgage-backed securities.
- After PHH Corp. was ordered to pay $109 million in penalties by the CFPB in a mortgage kickback scheme, it has asked to D.C. Circuit to reconsider.
- New York state court dismisses Commerzbank AG’s suit against UBS AG, Credit Suisse Group AG, and others due to the statute of limitations. Commerzbank brought suit alleging loan quality fraud in the sale of $1.9 billion in mortgage securities.
- NY federal court dismissed a derivative shareholder suit against American Realty Capital Properties Inc. as the suit did not fulfill the state law requirement that demand be made on the board of directors before bringing suit and this case did not meet the narrow futility exception to such demand. The shareholders brought suit over accounting issues that led to a sharp drop in stock value and destroyed a possible $700 million sale.
- In suit against Amazon for breach of contract, The Durst Organization will not be able to force Amazon to sign a $20 million per year lease. The court found that the letter of intent does not compel the retailer to execute the lease. However, Durst may be able to recover under the additional breach of duty and fraud claims.
- In a historical decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fair Housing Act covers unintentional discrimination through disparate impact, citing to the deep racial divides in the 1960s.
- US Bank, as a trustee of Lehman XS Trust, brings suit against Bank of America and Countrywide Financial for $178 million for alleged breach of representations and warranties in sale of residential mortgage loans.
recognized that the PLS market has been dormant since the financial crisis partly because of a “chicken-and-egg” phenomenon between rating agencies and originator-aggregators. Rating agencies will not rate mortgage pools without loan-level data, yet originator-aggregators will not originate pools of mortgage bonds without an idea of what it would take for the bond to receive a AAA rating.
Using our convening authority, Treasury invited six credit rating agencies to participate in an exercise over the last several months intended to provide market participants with greater transparency into their credit rating methodologies for residential mortgage loans.
By increasing clarity around loss expectations and required subordination levels for more diverse pools of collateral, the credit rating agencies can stimulate a constructive market dialogue around post-crisis underwriting and securitization practices and foster greater confidence in the credit rating process for private label mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The information obtained through this exercise may also give mortgage originators and aggregators greater insight into the potential economics of financing mortgage loans in the private label channel and the consequent implications for borrowing costs.
While this exercise is very technical, it contains some interesting nuggets for a broad range of readers. For instance,
The housing market, regulatory environment, and loan performance have evolved significantly from pre-crisis to present day. Credit rating agency models appear to account for these changes in varying ways. All credit rating agency models incorporate the performance of loans originated prior to, during, and after the crisis to the degree they believe best informs the nature of credit and prepayment risk reflected in the market. Credit rating agency model stress scenarios may be influenced by loans originated at the peak of the housing market, given the macroeconomic stress and home price declines they experienced. The credit rating agencies differ, however, in how their models adjust for the post-crisis regime of improved underwriting practices and operational controls. Some credit rating agencies capture these changes directly in their models, while other credit rating agencies rely on qualitative adjustments outside of their models. (10)
It is important for non-specialists to realize how much subjectivity can be built into rating agency models. Every model will make inferences based on past performance. The exercise highlights how different rating agencies address post-crisis loan performance in significantly different ways. Time will tell which ones got it right.