A CMO Primer: The Law of Conservation of Structured Securities Risk
The collapse of Brookstreet Securities and bailout of two Bear Stearns hedge funds have focused attention on collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs). These recent CMO losses closely parallel CMO losses in 1994 when a significant increase in interest rates caused many bond mutual funds to fall in value far more than expected. Today's CMO losses resulted from the relatively recent introduction of CMOs with substantial credit risk and the inadequate or misleading way in which that credit risk was disclosed. Dr. McCann provides a selective history and a brief description of CMOs.
Corporate and Municipal Bonds
Corporate and municipal bonds are substantially more expensive for retail investors to trade than similar-sized trades in common stocks. Trading costs including explicit commissions, mark-ups and mark-downs are significantly higher for retail-sized (small) bond trades than for institutional-sized (large) bond trades. Dr. Piwowar summarizes key findings in the academic finance literature on bond market trading costs, including research on the effects of adding price transparency to the bond markets, and explains how bond trading costs can be hidden in realistic examples using simple numerical examples.
Mandatory Arbitration of Securities Disputes
Dr. O'Neal and attorney/author Dan Solin today released a statistical analysis of the results of the mandatory arbitration process during the 1995 - 2004 period. They assessed almost 14,000 NASD and NYSE arbitration cases and found that Claimant win rates and recovery amounts have declined significantly over time. Moreover, claimants fare more poorly in large cases and in cases against larger brokerage firms. Dr. O'Neal and Mr. Solin estimate that the expected recovery before legal fees and expenses in a large case against a top brokerage firm is only 12% of the amount claimed.