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NBER Working Papers and Publications
|August 2012||Did Capital Requirements and Fair Value Accounting Spark Fire Sales in Distressed Mortgage-Backed Securities?|
with Craig B. Merrill, Taylor D. Nadauld, René M. Stulz: w18270
Much attention has been paid to the large decreases in value of non-agency residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) during the financial crisis. Many observers have argued that the fall in prices was partly driven by decreased liquidity and fire sales. We investigate whether capital requirements and accounting rules at financial institutions contributed to the selling of RMBS at fire sale prices. For financial institutions subject to credit-sensitive capital requirements, capital requirements increase as an asset's credit becomes impaired. When accounting rules require such an asset's value to be marked-to-market and the fair value loss to be recognized in earnings, a capital-constrained firm can improve its capital position by selling the credit-impaired asset even if it has to acce...