We study credit ratings on subprime and Alt-A mortgage-backed securities (MBS) deals issued between 2001 and 2007, the period leading up to the subprime crisis. The fraction of highly-rated securities in each deal is decreasing in mortgage credit risk (measured either ex-ante or ex-post), suggesting ratings contain useful information for investors. However, we also find evidence of significant time-variation in risk-adjusted credit ratings, including a progressive decline in standards around the MBS market peak between the start of 2005 and mid-2007. Conditional on initial ratings, we observe underperformance (high mortgage defaults and losses, and large rating downgrades) amongst deals with observably higher-risk mortgages based on a simple ex-ante model, and deals with a high fraction of opaque low-documentation loans. These findings hold over the entire sample period, not just for deal cohorts most affected by the crisis.
|Place of Publication||Tilburg|
|Number of pages||59|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|
|Name||EBC Discussion Paper|
- Credit Rating Agencies
- Subprime Crisis
- Mortgage-Backed Securities