Dealers and the Dealer of Last Resort: Evidence from MBS Markets in the COVID-19 Crisis
We study price dislocations and liquidity provision by dealers and the Federal Reserve (Fed) as the “dealer of last resort” in agency MBS markets during the COVID-19 crisis. As customers sold MBS to “scramble for cash,” dealers provided liquidity by taking inventory in the cash market and hedging inventory risk in the forward market. The cash and forward prices diverged significantly beyond the difference in the quality of MBS traded on the two markets. The Fed first facilitated dealers’ inventory hedging and then took holdings off dealers’ inventory directly. The price ...
Asset Pricing with Cohort-Based Trading in MBS Markets
Agency MBSs with diverse characteristics are traded in parallel with individualized specified pool (SP) contracts and standardized to-be-announced (TBA) contracts. This parallel trading environment has distinctive effects on MBS pricing and trading: (1) Although cheapest-to-deliver (CTD) issues are present only in TBA contracts and absent from SP trading by definition, MBS heterogeneity associated with CTD discounts affects SP returns positively, with the effect stronger for lower-value SPs; (2) High selling pressure amplifies the effects of MBS heterogeneity on SP returns; (3) Greater MBS ...
How Do the Fed's MBS Purchases Affect Credit Allocation?
It is sometimes said that the Federal Reserve should not engage in “credit allocation.” But what does credit allocation actually mean? And how do current Fed policies affect the allocation of credit? In this post, we describe two separate ideas often associated with credit allocation. The first idea is that the Fed should not take credit risk, which taxpayers would ultimately have to bear. The second idea is that the Fed’s actions should not influence the flow of credit to particular sectors. We consider whether the Fed’s holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) could ...
How the Federal Reserve's Large-Scale Asset Purchases (LSAPs) Influence Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) Yields and U.S. Mortgage Rates
We conduct an empirical analysis of the Federal Reserve's large-scale asset purchases (LSAPs) on MBS yields and mortgage rates. The Federal Reserve's accumulation of MBS and Treasury securities lowered MBS yields and mortgage rates by more than what would have been suggested by changes in market expectations alone, suggesting that portfolio rebalancing effects of LSAPs are an important consideration for monetary policy transmission. Our estimates also suggest that the Federal Reserve must hold a substantial market share of agency MBS or of Treasury securities to significantly lower MBS yields ...
Why Isn’t the Thirty-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage at 2.6 Percent?
As of mid-December, the average thirty-year fixed-rate mortgage was near its historic low of about 3.3 percent, or half its level in August 2007 when financial turmoil began. However, yield declines in the mortgage-backed-securities (MBS) market, where bundles of mortgage loans are sold to investors, have been even more dramatic. In fact, all else equal, had these declines passed through to loan rates one-for-one, the average mortgage rate would now be around 2.6 percent. In this post, we summarize some of the findings from a workshop held at the New York Fed in early December aimed at better ...
The capital structure and governance of a mortgage securitization utility
We explore the capital structure and governance of a mortgage-insuring securitization utility operating with government reinsurance for systemic or ?tail? risk. The structure we propose for the replacement of the GSEs focuses on aligning incentives for appropriate pricing and transfer of mortgage risks across the private sector and between the private sector and the government. We present the justification and mechanics of a vintage-based capital structure, and assess the components of the mortgage guarantee fee, whose size we find is most sensitive to the required capital ratio and the ...
How Do the Fed's MBS Holdings Affect the Economy?
In our previous post, we discussed the meaning of the term “credit allocation” and how it relates to the Federal Reserve’s holdings of agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS). We concluded that the Fed’s MBS holdings do not pose significant credit risk but that the Fed does influence the relative market price of credit when it purchases agency MBS, and this indirectly influences decisions by investors. Today, we take the next step and discuss how the Fed’s MBS purchases affect the U.S. economy and, in particular, how the effect of MBS purchases can differ from the effect of ...
The Dodd-Frank Act’s Potential Effects on the Credit Rating Industry
Credit rating agencies have been widely criticized in recent years for the poor performance of their ratings on mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and other structured-finance bonds. In response to the concerns of investors and other market participants, the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act incorporates a range of reforms likely to significantly reshape the rating industry. In this post, we discuss these reforms and their implications for investors, regulators, and the rating agencies themselves.
A private lender cooperative model for residential mortgage finance
We describe a set of six design principles for the reorganization of the U.S. housing finance system and apply them to one model for replacing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that has so far received frequent mention but little sustained analysis ? the lender cooperative utility. We discuss the pros and cons of such a model and propose a method for organizing participation in a mutual loss pool and an explicit, priced government insurance mechanism. We also discuss how these principles and this model are consistent with preserving the ?to-be-announced,? or TBA, market ? particularly if the ...
How the Fed Changes the Size of Its Balance Sheet: The Case of Mortgage-Backed Securities
In our previous post, we considered balance sheet mechanics related to the Federal Reserve's purchase and redemption of Treasury securities. These mechanics are fairly straightforward and help to illustrate the basic relationships among actors in the financial system. Here, we turn to transactions involving agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which are somewhat more complicated. We focus particularly on what happens when households pay down their mortgages, either through regular monthly amortizations or a large payment covering some or all of the outstanding balance, as might occur with ...