Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

February 7, 2014

The Road to Securitization

By David Reiss

Miguel Segoviano et al. of the IMF released a helpful Working Paper, Securitization:  Lessons Learned and the Road Ahead (also on SSRN). It opens,

Like most forms of financial innovation, there are cost and benefits associated with the securitization of cash flows. From a conceptual perspective, a sound and efficient market for securitization can be supportive of the financial system and broader economy in various ways such as lowering funding costs and improving the capital utilization of financial institutions—benefits which may be passed onto borrowers; helping issuers and investors diversify risk; and transforming pools of illiquid assets into tradable securities, thus stimulating the flow of credit—an issue of particular relevance for some European countries. However, these features need to be weighed against the potential costs, including the risk that securitization contributes to excessive credit growth in and outside of the formal banking system; principal-agent problems that amplify perverse incentives; the complexity and opaqueness of certain products which make efficient pricing problematic; and the heavy reliance of the industry on credit ratings. (3)

The authors identify lessons learned from the financial crisis as well as impediments to a renewed securitization market. They conclude with a set of policy recommendations.

I recommend this paper as a good overview. I particularly like that it looks beyond the United States market, although it does spend plenty of time looking at the history and structure of the U.S. market. The recommendations tend to be pretty reasonable, but not particularly innovative — implement Dodd-Frank-like requirements in non-U.S. jurisdictions; de-emphasize the role of NRSRO credit ratings; increase transparency and decrease needless complexity throughout the industry; modernize land record regimes, etc.

It is surely hard to get your hands around the global securitization industry, but it is important that we try to. Securitization is here to stay. We should manage its risks the best that we can.

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