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Are asset securitizations sales or loans?

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2008
<mark>Journal</mark>The Accounting Review
Issue number5
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)1251-1272
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This study addresses whether asset securitizations are really asset sales or a form of secured borrowing, by estimating cross-sectional equity valuation regressions to assess whether the stock market treats securitized assets and liabilities held by a special purpose entity (SPE) as assets and liabilities of the sponsor-originator (S-O). Overall, we find that the market views the SPE assets and liabilities as belonging to the S-O, i.e., the risk and rewards of ownership of the transferred assets reside with the S-O and not the SPE. Results from a boot-strapping simulation that controls for scale by randomly assigning SPE assets and liabilities from one S-O to another provide evidence that scale bias is an unlikely explanation for finding the market views SPE assets and liabilities as belonging to the S-O. Findings from specifications in which we permit coefficients to differ for S-O firms with high and low relative levels of retained interest indicate that whereas the market views asset securitizations by low retained interest S-O firms as sales, i.e., risk transfer has taken place, it views asset securitizations by high retained interest S-O firms as secured borrowings, i.e., risk transfer is incomplete. We also show that although the market views securitizations by regulated and unregulated S-Os as secured borrowing, there is suggestive evidence that regulated firms have greater incentives to use securitizations to achieve off-balance sheet financing.