This blog contains some simple tips and advice from two regular guys. We're not accountants, financial advisors, or brokers, so follow, ignore, or discuss our ideas as you see fit.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Topic Revisited: Mortage Backed Securities

Posted By Paul

Considering the recent economic times I thought it would be a good exercise to revisit some of the earlier Frugalize posts regarding various investment vehicles. My goal is to look at the post and see if the information in it is still accurate considering the very different economic landscape from just a short year ago.

I thought I would start with the posting about:

Mortgage Backed Securities

If you've read the earlier post, one specific item I mentioned was:

One problem is what if Joe B can't pay his mortgage? Well you have the house as collateral so that helps, and of course in a real MBS you are just one small part of a large conglomeration of mortgages so the risk of any one person defaulting on their loan is diluted."

This statement seems especially interesting in current times.

When I wrote the first article I found my information by doing some simple research on google. I did a similar thing today and an article on riskglossary.com had a very interesting paragraph that specifically mentioned how MBS were behaving in the last 8 years:

"Starting in the early 2000s, private label MBS were increasingly issued with little or no credit enhancement and on pools of risky sub-prime mortgages. For the first time, MBS posed significant credit risk. Because credit risk made these instruments fundamentally different from earlier mortgage pass-throughs, many market participants avoided calling them MBS, preferring to label them asset-backed securities instead. Volume in these risky instruments grew rapidly until 2007, when defaults accelerated and the market values of the instruments plunged. This caused a liquidity crisis that spilled into other segments of the capital markets. A number of hedge funds with leveraged exposures to sub-prime mortgages folded."

(for the full article that this came from click here)

It seems that the risk level of MBS were in some cases much higher than people suspected. I never invested in MBS but it would seem that people who did would have had a very rough time in the last year. I guess it just goes to show you that one year can make a big difference in the perceived risk of a particular investment.

If anyone out there has experienced the MBS roller-coaster first hand I would be very interested in hearing about it.

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