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Unobservable heterogeneity and rational learning: Pool-specific versus generic mortgage-backed security prices

Abstract

Previous mortgage prepayment and valuation models assume that two mortgage pools with the same observable characteristics should behave indistinguishably. However, even pools with apparently identical characteristics often exhibit markedly different prepayment behavior. The sources of this heterogeneity may be unobservable, but we can infer information about a pool from its prepayment behavior over time. This article develops a methodology for using this information to calculate pool-specific mortgage-backed security prices. Knowledge of these prices is important both for portfolio valuation and for determining the cheapest pool to deliver when selling mortgagebacked securities. We find that unobservable heterogeneity between mortgage pools is statistically significant, and that pool-specific prices, calculated for a sample of outwardly identical mortgage pools between 1983 and 1989, may differ greatly from any single representative price.

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Stanton, R.H. Unobservable heterogeneity and rational learning: Pool-specific versus generic mortgage-backed security prices. J Real Estate Finan Econ 12, 243–263 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00127536

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Key Words

  • mortgage-backed security
  • prepayment
  • heterogeneity
  • Bayesian updating
  • pool-specific prices