NYU Economics Research Paper (Independent Study) - Fall 2010
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NYU Economics Research Paper (Independent Study) - Fall 2010

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First of two research papers on issues involving the current economic downturn that I wrote during my senior year at NYU in collaboration with NYU professor, (both are pending professional ...

First of two research papers on issues involving the current economic downturn that I wrote during my senior year at NYU in collaboration with NYU professor, (both are pending professional publication).

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    NYU Economics Research Paper (Independent Study) - Fall 2010 NYU Economics Research Paper (Independent Study) - Fall 2010 Document Transcript

    • Non-Standard Securitizations: Their Economic and Financial Applications Potential Jason Schron New York University, New York, NY College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Student jns290@nyu.edu Lucas Bernard New York University Economics Department lucas.bernard@nyu.edu Abstract There are numerous obstacles that prevent non-uniform securitizationproducts from being traded in different domestic and internationalmarketplaces. Future flow receivables and diversified payment rights are themost commonly used and traded assets in these markets. Remittances play animportant role in generating funds in economically challenged countries.Securitization is also a major player in commodities markets and has
    • causations and correlations to the current [domestic and international]economic recession. The securitization process for non-uniform products alsohas similarities to the sub-prime home loan crisis. The history and developmentof non-uniform securitizations and how they have grown into their current rolein markets is also included in this model. Moreover, explanations of the risksand regulations that prevent non-uniform securitizations from becomingstandard in all markets greatly affect current economic measurables.1. Introduction There are many microeconomic, macroeconomic, legal, and otherissues that prevent non-uniform securitization products from becoming uniformso that they can be traded in national and international marketplaces. Future-flow securitizations and diversified payment rights securitizations are twoexamples of non-uniform securitizations that have been under much scrutiny.Different countries have different types of non-uniform securitizations, (e.g.Crude); and their different potential risks, constraints, perceived value, fiscalpolicies, market size, and trends in different marketplaces make it difficult tomake these securitizations standard. Non-uniform securitizations were first known as "asset-backedsecuritizations" in the early 1990s. They became known as "non-uniformsecuritizations" as their popularity grew globally and their restrictions andparameters begin to vary. Two examples of future-flow securitizations that arequite popular are future-flow securitizations and diversified payment rights
    • (DPRs). Future-flow securitizations became popular because they were readilyaccessible for developing countries seeking to obtain low-cost, long-termloans. Reputable public and private sector entities in these developingcountries were able to raise funds in formerly hard-to-reach capital markets andobtain higher credit ratings than their own governments. By establishingthemselves in foreign markets, these developing countries were able toovercome domestic credit ceilings and access cheaper foreign financing.These actions also enable the borrowing country to lessen or prevent theoverwhelming panic that may occur if their domestic or foreign reservesbecame depleted. Even in a porous economic climate such as today,securitization of future flow receivables in emerging markets are performingwell (Mohapatra, 2008). This is because the securitization of credit cards,tourism, trade, DPRs and other assets that were formerly not securitized areenabling developing countries to maintain their access to international capitalmarkets, even in times of economic crisis.2. Standard Features of Securitization Securitization is the process by which pre-selected assets are pooledtogether to be repackaged and sold to investors as interest-bearing securities.This process originated in the 1970s when U.S. government-backed agenciessuch as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pooled together home mortgages to beresold to other investors; these large pools of home mortgages were sold as
    • collective assets known as mortgage backed securities. Later in the 1980s, other assets began to be securitized and thesecuritization market grew dramatically. Many financial institutions usedsecuritization to transfer the credit risk of assets from their balance sheets toother financial institutions, such as hedge funds, insurance companies, andbanks. Securitized assets are relatively cheap to hold because rating agencieshave easier standards for them than the larger, non-securitized assets that theywere originally taken from. Securitization also lowers the concentration of riskby spreading it across multiple entities (Jobst 2008). A portfolio of securitizations is divided into three sections, known astranches: Junior, mezzanine, and senior. Each tranch is sold individually due totheir varying levels of risk. Junior has the most risk, mezzanine has the medianlevel of risk, and senior tranches have the least amount of risk. Investmentreturn, (which includes interest and principal repayment), and losses aredistributed among the three tranches based on their risk levels. Senior trancheshave the first choice of income generated from underlying assets due to theirlowest level of risk; mezzanine gets next choice, and the junior receives theremainder of the income generated from underlying assets. This concentrates portfolio losses in the junior tranches, which are thesmallest in size. Thus, junior tranches also have the highest risk, and thereforethe highest return to investors. Mezzanine tranches are the median in size andare the median in terms of returns to investors. Senior tranches have extremelylow risk because of their low loss expectations. Investors often finance senior
    • tranch purchases by borrowing from elsewhere. Any asset that supports a stable cash flow can be placed into areference portfolio and sold as securitized debt, which is why securitization hasbecome so popular and has spread to smaller and emerging markets in recentyears. In addition to mortgages, securities can be backed by individual lendingagreements, home equity loans, consumer credit, small business loans,corporate loans, sovereign loans, project finance, lease receivables, and less/trade receivables. These securities are known as “asset backedsecuritizations” or “ABS.” Additionally, a variant is a collateralized debtobligation which uses the same process as ABS, but includes a larger andmore diverse set of assets. Securitization originated as a way for financial institutions andcorporations to find new sources of funding. It allowed banks to move assets offof their balance sheets or borrow against their assets to refinance theirorganization at a fair market rate. It also reduced their borrowing costs and inthe case of banks, it lowered their minimum regulatory capital requirements(Jobst 2008). A major reason for the reduction in costs is because the assets aredetached from the originator’s balance sheet and credit rating, thus allowingthe issuers of the assets to finance the purchase of the assets more cheaplythan if they were not securitized. Securitization does not inflate a company’sliabilities as conventional debt does. Instead, securitization produces funds forfuture investment without balance sheet growth.
    • Through the securitization process, investors are able to quickly adjusttheir portfolios in response to changes in transactions costs, preferences, andmarket volatility. Occasionally, securities are not sold directly from the originator to theissuer, which is called “true sale securitization.” Instead, the originator sellsonly the credit risk associated with the asset without the transfer of its legal title;this is called “synthetic securitization.” Synthetic securitization enables theissuers to exploit price differences between the acquired, (and often illiquid),assets and the price investors are willing to pay for them if they are diversified ina larger pool of assets (Jobst, 2008).3. Empirics of Future-Flow Securitization First, the established country receiving the exported foreign funds to beused as future-flow receivables has the foreign funds converted to theirsovereign currency in order to raise more funds in the same or other markets.Second, the trustworthy country receiving the future-flow receivablesestablishes an "SPV", (Special Purpose Vehicle; also know as an “SPE” --“Special Purpose Entity” in some regions), in a tax neutral location outside theforeign country receiving their loan(s). Third, the lending country sells itscurrent and future export receivables to the SPV for a lump sum payment; or thelending country agrees to give the receivables to the SPV as security for adifferent loan from the SPV. Occasionally, the original lending country who alsoestablished the SPV inherits liability by agreeing to repurchase the receivables
    • from the SPV under unique pre-determined circumstances. Next, the SPV funds the original loan/purchase price by issuing securitiesbacked by its right to receive the existing and future-flow receivables. During arevolving period, the developing country acquiring the export receivables paysthe SPV by putting their payment in the SPVs personal, independent, offshorebank accounts. The SPV uses the received payment to pay their own scheduledinterest and principal payments on the securities exchanged and any othertransaction costs; the remaining cash from the original payment to the SPV isgiven back to the original payee country. Once the revolving period expires oris completed, all of the cash from the original payment to the SPV for the future-flow receivables is used to pay the interest and principal on the securities untilthey have been paid in full. The most desirable attribute of of future flow securitizations is that theyallow countries with external foreign currency debt ratings less than or equal toinvestment grade to obtain outside funding from international capital markets inorder to issue securities with a higher foreign currency debt rating from themoney that they borrowed from a more credible source than themselves. Thisaction allows the borrowing countries to bypass the "sovereign ceiling"because they can issue securities that are rated more highly than their nativecountrys external foreign currency debt rating, which allows the borrowingcountry to gain access to higher quantity and quality international markets sothey can try to make money in order to improve their "developing country"status.
    • 4. Securitization Types and Requirements There are certain requirements for the types of receivables that can beused to support a future flow securitization: First, the receivables must bedenominated in currency that is the same as the currency of the borrowingcountry. Second, the receivables must be indebted to creditworthy entities thatare investment-grade rated which are not situated within the borrowingcountrys borders. Third, the receivables must be liquid outside of the borrowingcountry. Some examples of the types of receivables that have been used inrecent future flow securitizations are US currency receivables owed to an Asianairline company by a credit card company for the purchase of airline tickets bycredit card; and US currency receivables owed to an emerging market telecomcompany by international long distance telecom carriers for international longdistance telephone calls. DPRs are recognized as an attractive and reliable alternative source oflong-run capital for banks, partly due to their lesser cost in comparison to riskierbonds and because they normally receive a higher credit rating than theborrowing countrys foreign currency rating. DPRs receive higher credit ratingson average compared to bonds because their future flow receivables are beingreceived from offshore obligors, the repayment is made directly by the [offshore]SPV to the investor. In addition, the higher investment grade ratings given toDPRs makes them more attractive to a larger audience of investors, (e.g.insurance companies that will not purchase sub-investment grade investments).Lastly, the purchased receivables are included in the SPV assets and are not
    • subject to the claims of any other creditors if bankruptcy were to occur. (ADB2007).5. Remittances DPRs also fall under the category of remittances. Remittances havebecome increasingly popular with both developed and developing countries. In2005, global remittances were estimated at $225 billion, which is twice as largeformal development assistance flows from countries and governing bodies, andare the second largest flow of external financial transactions after direct foreigninvestments. Remittance transactions play a significant role for developing countries byhelping them to obtain the funds they need to develop and reduce sovereignpoverty. Many of these developing countries do not have effective or efficienteconomic support systems for their citizens, and they have porous ornonexistent sovereign labor markets. Remittance flows from offshore/outsideentities catalyze sovereign consumption and growth and thus make currencymore mobile, and therefore available to more citizens. Remittances are more consistent than other flows and are countercyclical,which help balance economic fluctuations due to exogenous factors.Remittances also promote economic stability, specifically in regards to foreignexchange rates. This helps to finance the developing countrys trade deficit andspur national current account growth. Moreover, remittances strengthen acountrys banking system by pumping more money into the private sector. The
    • influx of new money supports expanded credit within the private sector andincreases the deposit base which decreases the amount of excess demand inthe sovereign loanable funds market.6. Remittance Examples For example, remittances are especially important for Central Asianeconomies. Due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and lack of naturalresources, many of the Central Asian countries rely on remittances for stabilityand growth. Even though many citizens in Central Asian countries are literateand educated, the unemployment rates in these regions is strikingly high. Manycitizens emigrate to find suitable employment and their home countries rely onemployment as an exportable sovereign good for hire. The nation of Kazakhastan also relies on remittances and compensationfor emigration, although for different reasons. About 20% of Kazakhastanspopulation emigrated due to ethnic or cultural friction in the 1990s (e.g. Jews,Germans, and Slavs). This left Kazakhastan at an extreme disadvantage, and indesperate need of remittances to make up for the loss of developed humancapital. Because Kazakhastan has been receiving outside remittances for thelast decade, all of the following have increased within its borders: The numberof borrowers, external sovereign lending, the disbursement of remittances, thesovereign credit quality of Kazakhastan, the share of total financial assets infinancial sector, the total number of banking assets, the average size of loans,and the development of technology. All of these positive effects have lead to
    • even more positive overall impacts of remittances in Kazakhastan: Thecontinued development of the banking subsection, domestic securitizationmarket, cross-border securitization market, and stability of the financial sector(ADB 2007).7. Impact on Current Economic Recession As of late, securitization has become a larger player in commoditiesmarkets. The current global economic downturn combined with the recentcredit crisis have increased the demand for the securitization of future flowreceivables and DPRs. The ratings of sovereign debt has decreased causingthe numbers of potential borrowers of future flow receivables and DPRs to groweven though their respective abilities to produce goods or the potential demandfor these goods may have not changed. If a joint agreement is reachedbetween the country producing the good, the customers for its good, and an off-shore/outside partner group which agrees to lend money to the producingcountry in exchange for the rights to the proceeds of the sale of the good to besold to the producing countrys customers, the off-shore/outside partner groupmay agree to lend guaranteed ("collateralized") funds to the producing countryin exchange for the future cash flow produced by the sale of its goods to itscustomers. Although there is some risk involved, the risk decreases becausethe guaranteed cash flow comes from the outside creditworthy lending country,which in turn results in a lower price for credit. This process has similarities with the sub-prime loan crisis that occurred
    • within the last few years. Lenders would finance loans collateralized by homesand the future earnings of the borrower would pay for the interest on theseloans. In the future flow securitization process, the future sale of commoditieswill pay for the interest on the loans. In both scenarios, the increasing price ofthe collateral reassures the investor of receiving his/her future payments fromthe borrower(s). In the recent, and still current economic downturn, securitization hasbecome more involved in "CMOs" (“Collateralized Mortgage Obligations”). Inequity markets, a tremendous amount of trade comes from institutions andactive traders balancing their market positions; connecting the two separatetransactions is the fact that much of the trading in CMOs during the recenteconomic downturn has more to do with large and small market playersadjusting their portfolios and less to do with confidence in the real estatemarket. Moreover, active market players have helped spur the growth ofcommodities markets from an estimated $643 million in 1994, to $5.2 billion in2004, to an estimated $80 billion at the beginning of 2010 (Bernard 2009).8. Risks and Regulations Although leveraged financing schemes are inherently risky, and thus askfor higher returns from the borrower to the lender, CMOs are especiallydependent upon the default rate. Much along the same lines that overestimatesby financial intermediaries and monetary government bodies about theincomes of home-owners weakened the CMO market and played a catalyzing
    • role in current recession, there is a similar risk relating to commodities: Due tothe necessity of looser financial restrictions when it comes to secondarymarkets, the value of commodities are skyrocketing, perhaps with negativefuture ramifications. Even though contracts in commodity markets are normally private andrequire additional informational services to assess their quality and risk, it isplausible to compare the role CMOs played in the current financial crisis to thepotential role commodities could play in prolonging this current economiccrisis, or creating a new credit crunch in the future. First off, the demand for commodities has been derived from the currenteconomic downturn because commodity producers are searching for lendersdue to the increased borrowing costs imposed by declining sovereign debtratings. Additionally, lenders want to lock in yields above what can be obtainedin more conventional money markets because they are more risk-averse nowthan possibly ever before. Lastly, the demand for most commodities can onlyincrease. If the aforementioned theories hold true, which is seeming more andmore likely as time goes by, the movement in commodities prices may actuallybe caused by, (NOT correlated to), a growing market in securitized products fortheir future cash flows. This movement in commodities prices makes theirpricing mechanism even more complex to decipher, which makes the task ofcreating standards for securities across international markets that much moredifficult. Commodities are much more volatile than corporate bonds or real estate
    • investments, which will naturally result in a greater danger of default, similar tothe current mortgage downturn. This fact leads many educated people in thefinancial world to believe that these structured financial products are verysensitive to prices, which are dependent on default risk. The increased beta onthese assets reflected an increase in systematic risk due to sectors such asreal estate once the generous ratings were removed from some of thepackaged securities. This same dilemma is likely to occur in the commoditiesmarket because of its greater volatility. Additionally, commodities’ prices are sensitive to exogenous factorssuch as political (monetary and fiscal policy), economic (money, capital,national, global markets), and geographical (natural disasters, tourism), andother unpredictable factors. Moreover, because commodities are used innumerous ways, simulation based on empirical evidence is more appropriatethan creating a tangible and exact pricing model. Nonetheless, simulations areonly worthwhile mechanisms if all of their parts fit together to make a puzzle asclose to the real dilemma as possible.9. Agricultural Commodities Agricultural commodities are pivotal in the economic well-being in bothdeveloped and developing nations. Agricultural commodities are often a keyeconomic export in developed nations, but inherently risky [volatile] commodityprices can greatly affect agricultural commodities. For example, if an exportingnation experiences a decrease in demand in conjunction with an unchanging
    • production rate, it can experience a significant economic downturn. Even ifproduction is decreased when demand initially decreases, the agriculturalsector will be dealt a blow with job losses. In comparison, certain agricultural commodities are inherently indemand. Corn is used to feed livestock and as natural fuel in the form ofethanol. Due to government programs across the world encouraging, (andoccasionally subsidizing), domestic producers and consumers who are activeproducing ethanol in order to reduce fossil fuels and increasing alternativeenergy options and consumption, corn generally experiences high demand. Continuing with the corn example, the increase in demand for corn canlead to other dilemmas. As corn prices rise due to increased derived demandfor ethanol, farmers have less corn to feed their livestock with, and may have tosell off some of their livestock. However, it takes time to sell off livestock asfarmers will search for the best buyers and negotiate for the highest prices.Thus, the price of meat can remain low for long periods of time becauselivestock buyers know that they have the upper hand in bargaining sincefarmers need to get rid of livestock in order to slow their losses.(Schmidt, 2010).As the supply of livestock decreases over time, the domestic and/orinternational price of meat may rise, causing underdeveloped nations and/orpeople with lower incomes to consume less protein and possibly decrease thequality of their health. Higher grain prices have catalyzed higher prices for agricultural assetsin equities markets. However, most investors do not want to get involved with
    • future flow receivables, and invest in proxies instead, (such as fertilizercompanies and tractors in reference to grain equities). The investment inproxies might artificially inflate their prices in the short run and investors shouldresearch for other reasons why these prices may increase, decrease, or remainconstant in the future. When the harvests are completed early or on time, and the harvest’s sizeand condition are close to predicted market values, it caps agricultural equitiesprices for the short term (few months at most). Moreover, the U.S. dollar is currently weak compared to otherinternational currencies, (i.e. Euro or Yuan), making U.S. agricultural goodscheaper and raising the purchasing expectations of domestic grain harvestersand traders. In the case of the Chinese Yuan, because China purchased so muchU.S. debt as investments, the Yuan and U.S. dollar are connected. An increase[decrease] in Chinese interest rates would increase [decrease] the value of theYuan and increase [decrease] the value of the U.S. dollar. A stronger dollar willlower demand for U.S. agricultural goods in international market places, whichcould lessen the amount of grain traded in exchanges. This is partly due to thefact that not all investors understand that agricultural goods are produced onfarms under varying exogenous and endogenous conditions rather thancontrolled factory conditions such as processed products (Schmidt, 2010). Nonetheless, underdeveloped nations frequently invest in agriculturalinfrastructure and innovation because of their available untapped natural
    • resources or potential contributions to global markets if their societies areimproved. The work on improving the purification system for Africa’s water bymultiple investors could have a major impact on the global economy innumerous ways and sectors. A diverse group of agricultural commodities are also traded in manyexchanges around the world. Trading agricultural commodities strengthenstheir business and individual market by allowing farmers to lock in constantprices for the future. Without the trade of agricultural commodities, farmerswould be more at risk for losing the value of their crops to unpredictablenegative events, such as natural disasters (Wisegeek 2010).Summary The economic and financial applications potential of all non-standardsecuritizations is infinite. If it were possible to come up with a way to be able tomake securitizations standard so they could be traded, bought, and sold inmarketplaces across the globe, the current global economic crisis could becorrected, and possibly become an economic boom. The number and type of assets that are able to be securitized haveincreased enormously in recent years, and can continue to do so ifinternationally accepted standards are created for securitizations. However, due to exogenous factors such as different economic climatesin different countries and regions of the world, language barriers, and differentcodes of moral and ethical conduct; as well as endogenous factors such as:
    • Will the borrowing country receiving the money from the established lendingcountry actually use the money for the same purposes that they promised to?(Moral Hazard quandry); does the borrowing country know enough about theestablished and more developed country lending them money to know if theyare getting a fair deal or not? (Adverse Selection problem). As soon as a solution to making non-standard securitizations standard inone marketplace becomes reality, it will be much easier to create variations ofthis solution to pertain to allowing non-standard securitizations to becomestandard in other market places, and thus generate more business across theworld.
    • ReferencesAsian Development Bank ("ADB"). Report and Recommendations of the President to the Board of Directors. Project Number 40941: July 2007.Bernard, Lucas and Semmler, Willi. Boom-Bust Cycles: Leveraging, Complex Securities, and Asset Prices 28 September 2009.Culp, Christopher L. Forrester, J. Paul. "Structured Financing Techniques in Oil & Gas Project Finance: Future Flow Securitizations, Prepaids, Volumetric Production Payments and Project Finance Collateralized Debt Obligations." Social Science Research Network. 5 August 2009 file:///Users/JSMar16/Desktop/IS%20New %20Development %20Article%20%233.webarchive>Jobst, Andrea. "Back to Basics" Finance and Development September 2008, Volume 45, Number 3.Jobst, Andrea. “How Securitization Works” Chart. "Back to Basics" Finance and Development September 2008, Volume 45, Number 3.Mohapatra, Sanket. “How Remittance Securitizations Can Help Developing Countries During a Credit Crisis.” People Move. 27 August 2008 http://blogs.worldbank.org/peoplemoveSchmidt, Ned W. “Food Prices Spiraling Higher, Grains Feed Meat Prices” The Market Oracle 21 October 2010 http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/ Article23658.html“What Are Agricultural Commodities?” Wisegeek 2010 http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-agricultural-commodities.htm