Securitizations and the financial crisis: Is accounting the missing link?

Cerbioni, Fabrizio; Fabrizi, Michele; Parbonetti, Antonio
September 2015
Accounting Forum;Sep2015, Vol. 39 Issue 3, p155
Academic Journal
In this paper we focus on the interplay between securitization accounting and regulatory capital rules to discuss how the misalignment between these two sets of regulations offered banks the opportunity to engage in opportunistic behaviors and incented them to take on too much risk. We do so in five steps. First, we describe the securitization process and analyze the complexity reached by securitization transactions in the pre-crisis period. Second, we discuss the contribution of securitization to the financial crisis and the role of securitization practices in the boom of the US's subprime market. Third, we present US GAAP and IFRS accounting for securitization and review the main requirements that banks had to meet in order to account for securitization transactions as a sale . Four, we analyze the role of securitization accounting in the crisis and show the effects of securitization on banks’ regulatory capital and performance. Finally, we describe the evolution of securitization accounting in the post-crisis period. Overall we claim that the combination of incentives stemming from accounting rules and bank regulation led to a banking business model that introduced high risks to the financial system and that obfuscated the transparency of financial transactions.


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