What Is The Role Of Securitisation In The Economy: Interests, Limits And History? Report Examples
The financial crisis of 2008 has ignited talks about the role securitization in the economy, which was once a latent subject. The recessionary impact felt in many countries during this period witnessed the collapse of banks, loans getting bad on large scale and owners of securitized securities taking a big hit. This leads to the debate on the effectiveness and limitations of the securitization process on the economic growth of a nation. The paper aims to discuss the role of securitization in the economy.
The paper is divided into five sections. The first section attempts to understand the meaning of securitization in detail, using relevant examples. The second section discusses the historical facts about securitization. The third section highlights the interests and limitations of this financial process. The fourth section of the paper discusses the role of securitization in the economy. The fifth section concludes the paper.
What is Securitization?
This section of the paper is divided into three parts. The first part defines securitization. The second part discusses the steps following in the securitization process.
Definition of Securitization
Securitization is a process that helps increase liquidity in the economy by converting a relatively illiquid financial asset into a security. It is the process in which financial assets are bundled so that they can be repackaged into interest-bearing securities (Jobst, 2008). The securities created are debt securities. Such securities are tradable in the market and are liquid in nature. The due repayment obligations on these assets are passed onto the buyer of these securities. The financial assets that are pooled into one are more or less homogenous in nature.
The securities thus created are backed by the collateral of the pooled homogenous assets. The homogenous assets that form the collateral for the tradable security can be collateralised or non- collateralised. The examples of collateralised assets are home loan and vehicle loan. Personal loans and education loans are examples of non-collateralised loans.
For example, a company has distributed mortgage loans to 100 retail consumers. These mortgage loans are backed up residential houses of the individuals who have availed the mortgage loan facility. As of now, the loans are shown in the balance sheet of the company. The company is expected to collect the loan obligations from the 100 consumers over a period of 15 years. In the balance sheet, these assets are shown under the assets section. The company has funded these loans through capital funding that forms a part of the liability section of the balance sheet. The company decides to securitize these loans. The company creates a special purpose vehicle and transfer these 100 loans to the new entity. The new entity converts these pooled 100 loans into debt security. The interest and principal repayment on these loans are passed through to the investors. This helps the company have immediate access to cash. This process is called securitization.
Thus, broadly defined, securitization is a process that creates a tradable commodity for the capital market. Since it coverts non-marketable loans into tradable securities, the key feature of the securitization process is to convert financial assets into commodities for trade in secondary markets. Securitization is also a combined process of integration and differentiation. This process integrates the mortgage loans into a common pool, which is integration. After that it separates the pool based on tenure, risk profile etc. This process is called differentiation. Securitization is also a dis-assembling process in which cash flows arising out of the debts are split as per the needs of the investors.
Parties Involved in the Securitization Process
Before discussing the securitization process, it is important to identify the parties involved in this process.
Originator is the primary company that has borrowers in its books. It is the main party in the securitization process. The originator can be a company or a financial institution. The originator has a loan agreement signed with the borrowers. The loans are issued by the originator and the borrowers are bound by the agreement to make regular principal and interest repayments to the originator.
Obligor is the person who takes loan from the originator and is mandated by the agreement to make regular payments.
Issuer is the firm that issues the debt securities. The issuing firms are usually carved out from the primary company as a special purpose vehicle for the specific purpose of securitization. These issuers are responsible for issuing the debt securities in the market.
The person who structures the security is an important party involved in the securitization process and can be called as the security structurer for this paper. They are normally investment bankers with expertise on debt structuring.
Credit rating agencies play an integral part in the process because they provide credibility to the debt security by releasing their ratings for the security. These agencies conduct risk assessment of the security by analysing the likelihood of cash flow generation from them.
Investors are the people who invest their money in the debt security. The investors can be individuals or institutions (like mutual fund managers, life insurers etc.) that take an interest in the structured debt security. Based on their comfort, the investors can take interest in a higher or lower risk instrument.
There are also other support and ancillary parties involved in the completion of a securitization process. However, the primary parties to this transaction are originator, issuer and investors.
There are five main steps in the securitization process that are detailed in this part of the paper.
The first step is to pool in similar assets and bundle it. The pooling of the asset is done by the originator that is the company with whom the end borrower has the loan agreement signed. This process requires careful examination of the nature of the underlying asset. This is required because the more value of underlying collateral, the more will be the credibility of the security. The higher is the number of pooled-in assets, the higher the diversification and the lower the risk of default. Similarly, the higher is the value of the underlying asset; the better is the quality of the bundle. For example, a bundle of personal loans will fetch less value as compared to a bundle of home loans as the latter has the house as collateral security.
The second step in securitization is creation of a special purpose vehicle that will serve as the issuer. Issuer will be the one to issue the debt security. There are twin purposes to have a separate entity issue the debt security. First, the purpose of creating a different legal entity for asset transfer is that the assets are immune from the risk of bankruptcy of the originator (Jobst, 2008). That is, even if the seller files bankruptcy, the interests of investors in debt security are safeguarded. Second, as the seller is not liable for any credit defaults in the portfolio transferred, the selling company eliminates the risk of default of the portfolio for his books. That is, if the loans get defaulted due to any reasons, the originator will not have any interest in it. It is important to note here that the interest and principal repayments of the borrowers will be collected by the originator on a regular basis and transferred to the issuer. This service is provided by the originator on a fee basis.
The third step is the transference of bundled asset to the issuer that is the special purpose vehicle. The important element here is to ensure transferring of entire responsibility of the loans to the latter. Hence, the assets are transferred under “without recourse” arrangement. In other words, this transaction is also known as “true sales”. This legal arrangement frees the originator against any liability arising due to defaults from obligors. The originator, thus, does not retain any legal interest in the asset sold (Jobst, 2008).
In the fourth step, the issuer issues securities for the investors. These securities are backed by the underlying asset collateral. As the debt security is backed by a tangible asset like a home or a vehicle, the risk of non-recovery is less. Also, as the security is backed by a large pool of individual investors, the credit default risk gets diversified and minimised. The investors rely on the future repayments on the debt obligation, and not on the originator or the issuer while buying the security. To facilitate investors, the loan portfolio is converted into tranches based on asset quality, like a senior tranche, a junior tranche etc. The structuring of debt securities, is most cases, is done by a separate investment banking firm or a structurer on payment terms.
The fifth step encompasses getting a rating done for the security from one or more credible rating agencies. The credibility of the rating agency is very important to bring investor’s trust in the security. The rating agencies will go through the composition of the debt security in offering and assign a credit rating. This service is provided by the rating agencies on fee basis.
Types of Securitization
There are broadly four types of securitization, which are discussed in this sub-section.
Mortgage backed securities or MBS are debt securities that have mortgage loans receivables as the underlying security, mostly on residential mortgages. These securities are freely traded in the capital market. The investors of mortgage backed securities have right on the cash flows or receivables generated from the underlying mortgage loans.
Asset backed securities or ABS are different from mortgage backed securities as they are built on assets other than mortgage loans. A common example of an asset backed security is a security built on lease payment receivables. Lease agreements are long term in nature and payments generated from them are regular and certain. Hence, investors get the rights of the receivables generated from the lease agreement.
Collateralized debt obligations are structured asset backed securities. These instruments are a notch above the normal asset backed loans in terms of complexity. These securities are called structured because they provide options to the investors to purchase a tranche based on their risk appetite. They also offer a predetermined sequence of cash flow to the customer. Thus, investors can match their asset and liability timing. This flexibility comes at the cost of additional complexity and layering in structuring the security.
Commercial mortgage backed securities are similar to the mortgage backed securities. The only difference is that mortgage backed securities are mainly created on residential mortgages and commercial mortgage backed securities are built on commercial mortgages. However, in essence, the traditional mortgage backed securities have low default risk as the underlying collateral is the residential house, usually where the borrower would be staying.
Historical Background of Securitization
The history of securitization is quoted by some as more than a century ago. Some trace it back to 1909 when Straus created the first debt security. Yet others go further back to 1860s when debt securities were issued for farm rail road. However, the modern age securitization is said to have begun in 1970. The chronological history of securitization is mentioned in this section of the paper.
In 1970, a security backed by home loan was created by Department of Housing and Urban Development in the USA and traded in the secondary market (Kaplan and Austin, n.pag.). It was then that the Government National Mortgage Association debt securities backed by a pool of mortgage loans (Kaplan and Austin, n.pag.). These securities were commonly loan as Mortgage Backed Securities or MBS. The objective of creation of these securities was to encourage global investments in the housing industry so that houses could be made more affordable for people. During this period, home loans were more illiquid in nature. The lenders always lived with the risk that there were less suitable borrowers for their home loan portfolio. The long tenure of the home loans also added to the risk. Keeping the portfolio meant exposing self to interest rate risks. If interest rates went up, some of the borrowers may not be able to meet their loan obligation, increase the default risk. If at all buyers were found for the loan portfolio, the documentation required for transfer of assets was huge and cumbersome. The creation of MBS made it easier for the mortgage lenders to sell the loan portfolios.
In 1971, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) issued the first conventional securitization (Kaplan and Austin, n.pag.). These debt securities were backed by private mortgages.
In 1977, Bank of America created the first MBS under private label (Kaplan and Austin, n.pag.). The MBS were also called pass through securities as the debt obligations could be passed to the investors in debt security. The period of 1970s was marked with issuance of innovative structures of securitizations in the secondary market.
In 1983, a tax reform was brought in by the government to provide more flexibility in structuring of debt security, in terms of the tenure of the securities and its risk profile. The debt securities created through securitization was an off-balance sheet item for the originator (principal company or financial institution). Since creation of this security significantly enhanced liquidity and fund availability of the originator, there were more funds available to provide affordable homes for consumers. This encouraged creation of other types of securitizations as well, like backed by auto loan, personal loan etc. It was during this period that debt securities with auto loan and credit card as underlying asset were issued for the first time.
In 1985, the first asset backed security was created. These securities were different from mortgage backed securities because they were not issued against loan repayment receivables, but against expected lease repayments. Similar to loans, lease repayments are certain and periodic. The other arrangements of the asset backed securities were similar to that of mortgage backed ones. They were also issued by special purpose vehicles, structured by experts and sold to investors in secondary market.
During 1980s, asset-backed commercial paper conduits (ABCPs) were first issued (Kaplan and Austin, n.pag.). These channels provided options to large corporates to finance their trade receivables and enhance their liquidity. The banks started offering factoring services from then. During this period, the United Kingdom joined the bandwagon and issued its first debt securities for residential mortgages.
The 1990s witnessed a full explosion of the securitization market, across the world. There were three major developments experienced in 1990s. First, the period saw securitization of commercial mortgages as well. Till this time, only residential mortgages were securitized. This further increased liquidity in the housing industry in the United States. Second, a wave of securitization was experienced across the globe. The legal system of Japan and United Kingdom were modified to include securitization. Other countries also followed the suit and adopted began adopting securitization in one form or the other. Third, the securitization market got flooded with options. This increased liquidity in the auto, housing and personal goods segment. It was during this time that securitization was offered for sub-prime loans for the first time.
The downfall of the securitization process came in the years 2007-2008. The 2008 crisis is well known for creating a recessionary tremor in most of the economies of the world, especially the United States. It led to consumer loans getting defunct. The value of houses dropped drastically. So the basic premise on which debt securities were sold, crumbled. This led to collapse of banks. It was later brainstormed that, in pursuit of improving the liquidity and making complex debt security structures, transactions became more layered and it was difficult to deduce the risk of default fell on whom. Also, in an attempt to scale up, the consumer loans became so parameterized that the originators were not capable of doing screening of individual retail consumers. There was less scope left for tailor-made solutions for these consumers.
The post 2008 era is bringing reforms in regulations and machinery of securitization process. This process still holds mettle and can prove to be an important tool to improve liquidity if the gaps of 2008 are properly plugged in.
Interests and Limitations of Securitization
Securitization has made a major breakthrough in the global financial market. Thus, it has a significant role to play in the economy. This section of the paper covers the interests and limitations of securitization.
Interests of Securitization
Advantages of securitization need to be understood from different focal points. In this paper, the interests of securitization for the economy, originator and the investor are being discussed.
Interests to the Economy: Securitization is an integral part of global economy today. It is advantageous to the economy in four main ways.
First, securitization acts as a bridge that brings the financial markets and capital markets closer. The loans are financial instruments created in financial markets. By nature, they do not have any transferability and marketability. However, securitization bridges this gap. It creates a marketable commodity, which can be freely traded, out of a non-marketable financial product (mortgage loan). It, therefore, empowers the capital markets.
Second, it reduces the liquidity risk of the financial markets. By increasing marketability of financial assets, which otherwise is bilateral in nature, the liquidity in the financial system is increased. It increases efficiency in the financial market, thereby improving efficiency in the economy.
Third, the commoditization of loans makes it more transparent for investors. It is easier to understand a commodity as compared to knowing the nitty-gritties of a loan agreement and its terms and conditions. It also improves efficiency in the system by removing the financial intermediaries.
Fourth, a number of researches indicate that securitization reduces the borrowing cost for the obligors. Thus, borrowers get the loans at cheaper rate, especially in case of residential home loans. This will motivate borrowers to avail loan benefits to own physical assets.
Interests to the Originator: The securitization process is very beneficial for the loan originator.
First, transferring assets to a separate entity removes the portfolio from the balance sheet of the originator. So, the regulatory requirement to maintain a minimum level of capital against the asset held also reduces. This leads to freeing up of a portion of originators capital that can be used for other purposes. It also improves the gearing ratios of the firm improve as the receivable is removed from the balance sheet and cash is added.
Second, the cost of capital of the firm is lowered. This is because a portion of the equity capital is freed up due to reduced regulatory capital requirement. Also, as the ratings of these securities are high, the borrowing cost is reduced as compared to traditional borrowing options. This is especially beneficial for private companies, smaller ones, which do not have enough access to moderately priced capital for their business.
Third, it improves the liquidity position of the firm. This is because the originator does not have to wait for the repayments to mature. This is a big advantage to firms as the firm obtains the invested funds early and these funds can be used for alternative purposes. In cases like home loan where repayment happens over a period of 10-20 years, getting the funds today significantly improves the firm’s cash position.
Fourth, securitization is a better risk management tool as the portfolio is made by pooling a large number of assets, thereby reducing the risk of non-repayment through diversification. It also helps in passing on the sub-prime assets to the special purpose vehicle for offering to the interested investors.
Fifth, the originator is free from the risk of credit default in the loan portfolio. Hence, if an adverse situation crops up and loans go bad, the originator will be not bear losses. For example, if the economy is affected by a recessionary wave, the originator can save itself from the risk of solvency due to loans going bad.
Benefits to the Investors: Securitization is advantages to the investors for five main reasons.
First, the investors do not have to depend upon the credit rating of the originator. The credit rating of the debt instrument in offering is the sole decision point for the investors. The bankruptcy risk of the originator is completely eliminated as the portfolio has been transferred a special purpose vehicle.
Second, securitization gives the investors an option to choose from a range of security instruments like senior tranche mortgage, junior tranche mortgage, auto loan receivables and interest-only or principal only repayment options. Depending upon the tenure and risk profile requirements of the investors, they can choose from a range of available options.
Third, the investors also have an option to match the time of the receivables with their liabilities. Timing is very important in making financial decisions. If the obligations or liabilities are due at the same time as the inflow of payments for debt security, there is no need of hedging.
Fourth, debt securities are created from a pool of small consumer loans. Hence, risk of default is lesser as compared to the default risk on one large loan. This is because diversification reduces the risk of idiosyncrasy risk. While exceptions do exist in the form of 2008 financial crisis, but the same can be attributed to the difference between the nature of loan offered through securitization and on-balance sheet loans. It cannot be completely attributed to the securitization process.
Last, but not the least, the transaction is transparent regarding obligors repayments as the originator continues to be responsible for the collection of loan obligations from the obligors.
Limitations of Securitization
The process of securitization has its own limitations. An example of failure of this process is the recent financial crisis of 2008. The seven main limitations of securitization are discussed in this section of the paper.
First, securitization is a complicated structure. As compared to a traditional debt offered by a bank or a company, the structure of debt security backed by mortgages or assets are rather complex. Right from creating a special purpose vehicle to deal structuring, this is a multi-layered complex process that requires involvement of multiple parties. These parties come with additional cost. Thus, transaction costs in such deals are high.
Second, debt securities created through securitization are always subject to risk of prepayment. If the borrowers prepay the loan, the loans will be closed before maturity and its effectiveness will be reduced. This risk gets aggravated primarily during interest rates cuts, where the borrower may have option of refinancing the loan at lower cost. If these loans are prepaid during low interest rate environment, re-investment risk will be higher and investors might have to invest at lower interest rates.
Third, the lucrativeness of the process can make companies and banks more aggressive in lending. In the process of scale up, the required due diligence and consumer screening gets ignored. The loan product becomes more parameterized and in an effort to be speedy, firms tend to lose focus on screening of the borrower. Thus, securitization is disadvantageous if it is not used appropriately. The lowering of credit standards for new customers was one of the reason main for the deals going as bad in 2008 financial crisis. This makes investors cautious while entering into this segment.
Fourth, securitization is fraught with problems of information asymmetry. These structures are complicated and, most of the times, people do not understand it fully. Sometimes, there are so many layers to the structure that it is difficult to determine that the risk of default is being borne by whom. As the issuer has more information on the structured debt, chances of manipulation or fact misrepresentation to the investors is high. To an extent, this risk is taken into account by the credit rating of the security.
Fifth, the major advantage of securitization is said to be its off-balance sheet treatment. However, in some cases, securitization does not lead to off-balance sheet treatment of debt. Thus, it may not be advantageous.
Sixth, by making the non-marketable loans tradable in the secondary market and improving liquidity in the market, securitization also increases volatility of the price of financial assets. Thus, the price stable non-marketable assets get converted into volatile tradable assets.
Seventh, securitization can also reduce the role played by banks as financial intermediaries. As the loan assets owned by banks will reduce, banks will become a smaller player in the financial market and their role in effectively implementing monetary policies will get diluted. The freeing up of capital due to securitization may lead to drop in total capital employed in the banking system, which may curtail economic growth.
Policy Reforms in Securitization
The role of securitization in economy is pivotal. The key benefits to economy are improved liquidity, more funds to invest, better risk management and improved quality of assets created. As the securitization process has the power to increase liquidity in the system and make available more funds for borrowers during the expansion phase, it also has the power to multiply the magnitude of damage if things go wrong in the recessionary phase. Hence, it increases the volatility of the otherwise non-marketable assets. Under this premise, it is important to use this financial engineering tool with caution and appropriateness. The policy reforms in securitization will help achieve this objective. There are mainly three aspects in which policy reforms are required in the securitization process.
First, the quality of the underlying loan is the key to the success of securitization. Securitization was started in 1970s. It worked well till the beginning of the 21st century, which is about 40 years. But, in the late 2000s, originators started becoming more aggressively on increasing their mortgage book size. In the attempt to scale up, the time spent on screening loans was drastically reduced. Hence, screening norms needs to be strengthened for consumers. The more efficient are the norms to filter good loans from bad loans; the better is the success of the securitization process. The credit screening process can be strengthened by bringing about reforms that mandate originate to conduct some basic due diligences before lending to them.
Second, the policy reforms should motivate the issuers to structure the securities in such a way that transparency of the deal is maintained. As securitization deals are complex, it is necessary to keep it as transparent as possible. This will help investors know the real value and the risk of the securities they are purchasing.
Third, credit ratings issued by reputed rating agencies are of prime importance in making investment decision. Hence, rating rationales and other disclosures should be provided in detail to ensure that consumers fully understand what they are getting into and are fully confident about it. It is another way of improving transparency in this complex system.
Fourth, increasing the base of institutional investor can help spur demand for these security products. This will also broaden the investor base. As of now, banks, mutual funds and insurance companies constitute a large part of investor base. This can be done by easing out certain stages in securitization. For example, if the process of hedging the prepayment risk is made simpler, more investors will be attracted towards securitized products. Spreading out the maturity of mortgage loans can also encourages new investors to pitch in. While the first three policy recommendations are supply side initiatives, the fourth one aims at encouraging demand.
Thus, policy reforms can play a great role in bridging the demand side and supply side gaps in the securitization market. However, bringing reforms and regulatory changes is a continuous process and reviews need to be done from time to time to further improve the securitization process.
Securitization is process of bundling of mortgages into a pool and then dividing it into smaller units and selling into secondary markets as securities. It is a process of transferring a loan into a tradable commodity. It also splits or disintegrates the cash flows generated from the mortgage loans to suit varying investor’s requirement. The key parties involved in securitization are the originator, issuer, investor, obligor, the credit rating agency and the entity that structures the deal. The process of securitization is a five step process. In the first step, the loans are bundles. The second step includes creation of a special purpose vehicle to issue the security. In the third step, the bundled loans are transferred to the newly formed entity. The fourth step involves issuance of the debt security by the issuer. In the fifth step, the security is rated by a credit rating agency and traded in the capital market. Mortgage backed securities, asset backed securities and collateralized debt obligations are three broad forms of securitizations. The modern age securitization is considered to have begun in 1970s with initiation of mortgage backed securities. It grew over the period to become an integral part of financial and capital markets.
Securitization plays a key role in the economy of a nation, by empowering the capital market, reducing liquidity risk, improving transparency and reducing borrowing costs. It empowers the capital market by creating tradable securities out of non-marketable loans. It acts as a bridge that brings the financial markets and capital markets closer. It reduces the liquidity risk of the financial markets by increasing marketability of financial assets. It increases transparency for investors as a commodity is easier to understand as compared to a loan. Researches indicate that securitization also reduces the borrowing cost for the obligors. Thus, securitization is an integral part of the present day global economy.
The process benefits the originators as well. It lowers the cost of capital for the firm as capital adequacy requirement is reduced and some capital is freed. It improves liquidity position of the firms as the long term receivables are converted into cash and cash equivalents. It is a better risk management tool and the quality of asset improves. It also relieves the originator from credit default risk of the mortgage loan portfolio.
Investors also have a lot to gain from securitization. It removes the originator’s bankruptcy risk from the underlying asset. It also provides investors with a range of options that they can choose from. They can select options based on their risk appetite and cash inflow timing. Since the debt securities are created by pooling in a large number of individual loans, the credit and idiosyncrasy risk is reduced. The transparency of the financial instrument also increases due to securitization.
The interests of securitization are very alluring. This led to mushrooming of this concept of financial engineering across the globe. However, the recent financial crisis forced the financial experts to rethink about the effectiveness of this tool. The defects of the tool were brought into light by this economic downturn. It can be concluded that securitization is a great tool to have, but its usage has to be appropriate and cautious. Some of the key limitations of securitization tool are its complexity, high prepayment risk, possibility of lax in credit screening and problems of information asymmetry. The lax in screening of consumers due to aggressive lending focus directly impacts the loan quality and security quality.
There are five main changes envisaged in the future of securitization. First, in future, more support is witnessed from the policy makers in encouraging this financial tool. Having learnt from the mistakes of the past, adequate policy reforms will strengthen the foundation of securitization. However, it looks unlikely that it will be the key source of financing in future. Second, securitization is making its foray into non-convention receivable or loan sources. For example, securitization in solar panels, rental receivables and non- residential houses are gaining momentum. In the solar panel securitization, underlying security is the lease agreement or the purchase agreement of power that the seller owns. As the cash flow is uncertain, a security is created out of this cash flow. Third, in the future, a strengthening in synergy of different financial concepts is envisaged. As the markets become more investor-friendly, a combined effort of asset-liability management, portfolio management and securitization will provide the maximum value to the investors. Fourth, the credit underwriters and credit agencies are expected to play a very important role in the securitization process as their expertise will help clean balance sheets and make investors make informed credit decisions. Fifth, having learnt the hard way, investors will no longer make their security purchase decision on the rating alone. A more pro-active approach is expected from the investors in future, especially the institutional investors, as the run the reputation risk if their investments go bad.
Overall, securitization is a great financial tool to have. It presence in the capital market cannot be debated. However, a change in the way it is perceived by people has been witnessed after the recent financial crisis. But, securitization has huge prospects in future with better policy reforms, non-conventional collaterals, strengthening partnerships and more vigilance of the investors.
Jobst, Andreas, 2008. What is Securitization? Finance and Development, [Online] Available at: < http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2008/09/pdf/basics.pdf> [Accessed 20 Mar 2015].
Kaplan, Cathy M. and Austin, Sidley, 2014. Securitization: A Brief History and a Road Ahead, Law Business Research Limited, [Online] Available at: <http://whoswholegal.com/news/features/article/31673/securitisation-brief-history-road-ahead> [Accessed 20 Mar 2015].