Nonagency mortgage-backed securities (MBSs) and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) derived from MBSs and their role in the recent financial and housing crisis remain a subject of discussion. An MBS is an asset-backed security secured by a mortgage or grouping of mortgages. Non-agency MBSs are not guaranteed by any government-sponsored organization, such as Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, or the federal government. According to research from Gonzalo Maturana, assistant professor of finance, and John Grifﬁn (U of Texas), the complexity of these structured products made it difficult to learn the true value of the underlying assets. They analyzed “apparent fraud among securitized nonagency loans, looking at unreported second liens, owner occupancy misreporting, and appraisal overstatements.” The study data comes from Lewtan’s ABSNet Loan and HomeVal data sets, along with DataQuick’s Assessor and History files, for the time period between January 2002 and December 2011. The researchers discovered that “48% of loans exhibited at least one indicator of misrepresentation.” The level of misreporting was similar for low- and full-documentation loans. Also, loans with a misreporting were 51% more likely to be delinquent. Maturana and Griffin’s research points to apparent fraud by loan originators and MBS underwriters, and it also suggest that MBS underwriting banks were aware of some of the MBS representations at issuance.
Gonzalo Maturana Associate Professor of Finance