The Economics of Structured Finance

Joshua Coval, Jakub Jurek, and Erik Stafford
Structured Products & Liquid Alternatives
Member Library
The essence of structured finance activities is the pooling of economic assets like loans, bonds, and mortgages, and subsequent issuance of a prioritized capital structure of claims, known as tranches, against these collateral pools. As a result of the prioritization scheme used in structuring claims, many of the manufactured tranches are far safer than the average asset in the underlying pool. This ability of structured finance to repackage risks and to create "safe" assets from otherwise risky collateral led to a dramatic expansion in the issuance of structured securities, most of which were viewed by investors to be virtually risk-free and certified as such by the rating agencies. At the core of the recent financial market crisis has been the discovery that these securities are actually far riskier that originally advertised.