Why not covered bonds?
Why not pass legislation for covered bonds in the United States? It is easy to do and there is basically no cost to the Treasury. In 2011, covered bond legislation passed the House Financial Services Committee by a vote of 44 to 7, a very strong bi-partisan vote. The only dissenters were hoping to implement provisions requested by the FDIC that were rejected by the majority. The dissenters were unable to retain even members from their own party on the final vote. Probably more than any other development, this demonstrates that covered bonds are not a partisan concept, they are not divisive and they have broad support.
Covered bonds will bring private funding to residential mortgage loans, but there is no good reason that passage of covered bond legislation should be tied to GSE reform. There is nothing about covered bonds that would implicate GSE reform, except that by bringing private funding to the market they could reduce the dominate role of the GSEs. And there is no credible evidence that either party in Congress believes that a continued dominate role for the GSEs is a policy mandate.
An unlike securitization of residential mortgage loans, no concerted effort is needed to get investors to participate. Investors are wary of residential mortgage securitization as a result of the financial crisis, which was precipitated by mortgage securitization. There are many efforts underway to convince investors to return to the RMBS market. Covered bonds carry no such baggage. Covered bonds have been readily sold to U.S. markets since 2010 and investors remain eager for more.
Covered bonds are more transparent to regulators.
Covered bonds are a simpler investment analysis for investors.
Covered bonds are proven financing technology with worldwide acceptance.
Covered bonds are friendlier to mortgage borrowers because the originator retains the right to modify loans to assist borrowers in working out difficult loans.
What’s to lose? Maybe covered bonds could develop into a vibrant private sector funding alternative for residential mortgage loans. If not, no loss. And no cost. But if it works, it’s a plus all around.