I do have a few things to share with you. Note that I'm doing this only to raise your awareness about some of the underlying issues--issues that I really do not fully understand. Caveat...I may have this totally wrong.
I found Accredited Home Lender's (LEND) S-3 (Registration statement) for its very first issue of 2007 (2007-1). This is a whopping doc 390 pp.. I'm not able to devote the sort of time needed to review it.. But there are some gleanings that I wanted to share with you...... First, though, I want to make a couple of comments as to why any of this matters. Any there are smarter people reading this blog than the writer, so PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CORRECT MY ERRORS.
- We are hearing that subprime will not spill over. Well, I think it has spilled over in the worst sort of way because these loans have largely been part of a securitization machine led by government entities and the investment banks. So yes, this crap is in lots of porfolios--pension funds, insurance companies, fixed income portfolios.
- Due to the liberal lending policies, these loans can have LTV ratios as high as 100% (for the securitization that I'm commenting upon), but had appraisals been done, those ratios might change--for better or naught. So the quality of the underlying securities (and their commensurate ratings) might be materially different than expected. All manner of bad things can happen because of that as you will see if you read.
Let's look a moment at the structure of these collateralized instruments:
There are two things that are important.
- Each tranche represents a different risk (quality) level--greater risk = greater interest
- Each tranche represents a holder that gets lower in the food chain as you move down.
Here's another concept to be aware of and that is "credit support" or enhancement. You can read about it in greater detail here. IF you want your offering to be considered attractive, you need to offer some comfort--some cushion. There's a couple of ways to do that: (1) through structuring subordinated tranches (low on totem pole) as you see in the above diagram, and/or (2) through overcollateralization. Think about overcollateralizaton as a LTV ratio for the securitization (structured debt obligation).Per theLink: "Rating agencies rate the different ‘slices’ (from AAA tounrated) in order to provide market participants and investors with an assessment of the risk associated with each. Performance is largely driven by the collateral manager’s ability to avoid defaults and maintain creditworthiness of the investments." [I do not understand yet how the rating process is effectuated, but I imagine that it is due to FICO, LTV, level of loan documentation and other factors that would provide one with greater comfort of ultimate payback--that's another day. ]
The example above shows the tranches--think about it as a food chain or totem pole. It's not going to be a pretty place to be. An example, then, of support/enhance might be your issuing $100M of underlying assets (loans to borrowers) but only issuing $80M in securities. IN this example, the difference of $20M would be the equity portion retained. Now look at the diagram (above) again. The equity portion is unlikely to be the cream. So if you see issuers (such as Accredited) with these loans (equity) on their books, my understanding (I could be wrong) is that these would be drecht loans--and you would likely see higher default rates. Accordingly, loan loss reserves may need to be beefed up. Additionally, one could get an insurer (such as FGIC, Ambac, XL Capital, Radian et al) to take on risk in this area.
Let's follow the money. This is from LEND's S-3 registration Even if you click to make this larger, it will be a bit fuzzy, that is from the original. Do notice that everyone gets their fees first before anything gets disbursed to note holders.
I do not fully understand this diagram with respect to the Overcollateralization Deficit. But there appears to be cross collateralization between A-1 and A-2 notes, and if there is some deficiency, then the note insurer must be increased to maintain the appropriate reserve. I apologize for not having this more fully researched, but I wanted to post some general things first. If I waited until I fully understood all of the ins and outs (which I'm not equipped to do), then this post would never happen. Again, full disclosure of underlying ignorance.
Now what can go wrong? When you buy bonds supported by indebtedness (or if you make loans), you have two types of risk:
- market (interest rate) risk. Rising rates lowers the value of the instrument. This risk is mitigated through interest rate derivatives;
- credit risk: the risk that the borrower will be unable to pay. This is mitigated through the collateral support, enhancement (to include having an underwriter to insure the risk, remember MGIC and Fidelity Guaranty).
- Ratings of tranches may prove misleading--the underlying notes are assigned to each tranche--these are specific notes, not a fungible pool of securities. So what? If ratings have to be changed, and former investment grade securities are now looking like something different (think pig's ear v. silk purse), holders who are required by their charter, etc to hold investment grade, must do some dumping of these securities. That is called a sell-off. and those are not pretty.
- Holders in the lower tranches run significant risk of not getting paid their principle--they will start dumping those securities (and calling their lawyers).
- The equity portion of these tranches (and I'm sure some hedge funds may be involved in these as well as the issuers) will need to be written down to reflect the net realizable value--these impairments could affect required capitalization of issuers (this happened to LEND) and cause their being in default of credit agency requirements and/or contracts with their underwriters. (Again, this happened to LEND).
- The insured portion of these securities may cause greater payouts from the insurers, so their earnings and their capital ratios could be affected. Those insurer's are dependent on their agency ratings, too. So I see Fitch, Moody's and Standard& Poor as being quite busy in their assessment of these exposures and what it means to the people they rate.
So...all of the above is how subprime potentially reaches into our financial system. Until these issues are addressed by trusted financial leadership, do not think for a minute that it is a "contained contagion". And I would urge you to look at any fixed income holdings you have to see if YOU have any portfolio exposure. I just do not understand why you have the financial leadership (economists, money managers) speaking about this issue. Maybe I have the whole thing wrong, and I would welcome that criticism.