Posts Tagged ‘securitisation’

Reserve Bank of Australia entering the landlord business

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Last Friday and today, The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) got move involved in the landlord business by buying up a total of AU$1.1 billion of mortgages. Effectively, the RBA produced AU$1.1 billion from thin air and lent it at around 7.8% to banks, who in turn lent it to mortgage borrowers at above 9%. Most of that money had to be repaid to the RBA in around a year’s time. Since October last year, the RBA had been buying up around AU$2.64 billion worth of mortgages (source of RBA’s market operations data can be found here).

Let us give you a sense of scale of how big those landlord business transactions were. As at February 2008, there were around AU$218 billion of securitised housing loan (see Rising price of money through the demise of ?shadow? banking system for the meaning of securitisation). Therefore, the AU$2.64 billion of mortgage purchase constitutes 1.2% of the February 2008 securitised housing loan figures.

For now, we are not trying to read too much into this. The RBA is not the only central banking getting involved in the landlord business in the name of providing liquidity. What might be the possible repercussions if the RBA had not done that? Keep in tune!

How to dump risk to consumers: securitisation

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Nowadays, in the world of business, we often hear the idea of ?risk management,? which imbue a sense of control over the unpredictability of life under the sun. While it is true to some extent, this idea had often been corrupted to the point where risks are ?managed? by simply dumping them to unsuspecting consumers. As we alluded before in Are you being ripped off by fund managers?, it is often consumers who get the worse end of the deal because of their lack of financial literacy.

Today, we will look at one of the ways of how this is done?securitisation of debt. For this, we will use the mortgage lending industry as an example. Traditionally, banks make their money through mortgage lending by borrowing money at a lower rate of interest and lending to mortgage borrowers at a higher rate. The differential between the two rates make up the profit. The only risk lenders take is the threat of default by the borrowers. When that happens, in the case of mortgage debt, the home is foreclosed and the lender sells it to the market to recoup its losses.

With the recent financial ?innovation? of debt securitisation, lenders can now aggregate their loans, and through dicing, slicing, splicing and divesting, repackage it into an ?investment? product. An example of such ?investment? product is the mortgage fund. These ?investment? products are then sold to retail investors (i.e. consumers) directly and indirectly (through their retirement funds). As with all financial products, these ?investment? products come with ?management? fees. In Australia, there is another twist?mortgage ‘insurance.’ For borrowers who cannot afford 20% of the home equity, they have to pay mortgage ‘insurance? on top of their regular mortgage payments. These mortgage ?insurance? protects the lenders (NOT the borrowers) against mortgage defaults.

Thus, such lending businesses are highly lucrative. There are hardly any risks by playing the role of the middle-person since they are mainly being offloaded to consumers on both sides of the deal. Since this is the case, we can expect lenders to be more tempted to offer their loans to less credit-worthy borrowers (that is, the sub-prime borrowers) were it not for the securitisation of debt.

In Australia, securitised debts are mainly confined to mortgage loans. But in the US, the level of financial ?innovation? even allow credit card debt to be securitised. Thus, retail investors beware!