Proposed Basel Framework Inconsistent With SF Performance, Says Fitch

The latest proposals from the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision on the capital treatment of securitisation exposures are inconsistent with the strong performance of most structured finance securities, Fitch Ratings says.


"We believe the proposed capital treatment could significantly dent appetite for securitised debt among banks," says the agency.


The Basel committee estimates that its proposals would sharply increase risk weights. Fitch notes these rises would result in excessive capital charges relative to the low actual losses on most SF notes. For example, the risk weighting for a 'AAAsf' rated senior tranche with a five-year maturity rises to 58% under both proposed hierarchies from the present 7% under the ratings-based approach. For an 'AA+sf' rated five-year senior tranche, the risk weights jump to 75% from 8%.


Fitch expects total losses on the US$9.5 trillion of Fitch-rated SF bonds issued during 2000-2011 to be less than 5%. Losses are disproportionately driven by US RMBS, which represent well over half of global SF losses, but accounted for less than a third of supply. Moreover, losses on prime US RMBS are considerably lower than on Alt-A and subprime deals.


The ratings agency forecasts losses on EMEA RMBS transactions to be significantly lower, at 0.2%. It does not expect losses on Fitch-rated notes in the largest European RMBS markets, the UK prime and Dutch prime sectors. ABS transactions have been resilient. Fitch forecasts total losses of 0.5% on US deals and 0.2% on EMEA deals.


Overall, pre-2008 deals account for over 99% of the total losses projects Fitch. Post-crisis transactions benefit from higher credit quality, and greater credit protection. One driver of increased credit protection at a given rating level has been the revision of rating criteria since the crisis.


The Basel Committee has announced a consultation on its securitisation framework. It is considering two possible systems (hierarchy A and hierarchy B) that would both be "significantly different" from Basel 2.5. They more closely align the standardised approach (SA) and the internal ratings-based approach (IRB). For example, they would extend the 20% risk-weight floor in the SA securitisation framework to banks using the IRB approach, where the floor is currently 7%. They also distinguish among securities with different maturities.


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