The Panic of 2007

93 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2008 Last revised: 26 Sep 2010

See all articles by Gary B. Gorton

Gary B. Gorton

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Yale University - Yale Program on Financial Stability

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2008

Abstract

How did problems with subprime mortgages result in a systemic crisis, a panic? The ongoing Panic of 2007 is due to a loss of information about the location and size of risks of loss due to default on a number of interlinked securities, special purpose vehicles, and derivatives, all related to subprime mortgages. Subprime mortgages are a financial innovation designed to provide home ownership opportunities to riskier borrowers. Addressing their risk required a particular design feature, linked to house price appreciation. Subprime mortgages were then financed via securitization, which in turn has a unique design reflecting the subprime mortgage design. Subprime securitization tranches were often sold to CDOs, which were, in turn, often purchased by market value off-balance sheet vehicles. Additional subprime risk was created (though not on net) with derivatives. When the housing price bubble burst, this chain of securities, derivatives, and off-balance sheet vehicles could not be penetrated by most investors to determine the location and size of the risks. The introduction of the ABX indices, synthetics related to portfolios of subprime bonds, in 2006 created common knowledge about the effects of these risks by providing centralized prices and a mechanism for shorting. I describe the relevant securities, derivatives, and vehicles and provide some very simple, stylized, examples to show: (1) how asymmetric information between the sell-side and the buy-side was created via complexity; (2) how the chain of interlinked securities was sensitive to house prices; (3) how the risk was spread in an opaque way; and (4) how the ABX indices allowed information to be aggregated and revealed. I argue that these details are at the heart of the answer to the question of the origin of the Panic of 2007.

Suggested Citation

Gorton, Gary B., The Panic of 2007 (September 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14358. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1271390

Gary B. Gorton (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Ave
P.O. Box 208200
New haven, CT 06511
United States

HOME PAGE: http://mba.yale.edu/faculty/profiles/gorton.shtml

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yale University - Yale Program on Financial Stability

165 Whitney Avenue
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
259
rank
1,535
Abstract Views
2,595
PlumX Metrics
!

Under construction: SSRN citations will be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information