Rational Prepayments and the Valuation of Collateralized Mortgage Obligations

  • Published: Apr 30, 2012
  • Pages: 891-921
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6261.1994.tb00082.x


This article presents a procedure for evaluating collateralized mortgage obligation (CMO) tranches. The solution procedure is in the spirit of a dynamic programming problem in which an individual mortgagor's decision to prepay is the feedback control variable—the mortgagor seeks to minimize the value of the mortgage subject to refinancing costs. We employ a two‐step procedure to solve this dynamic programming problem. The first step uses an implicit finite difference backward solution procedure to determine the “optimal” prepayment boundary for a class of mortgagors, each of whom confronts the same proportional refinancing cost. This step is repeated for several different classes of mortgagors that differ in the level of refinancing costs that they confront. The outcome of this first step is a series of prepayment boundaries—one set of boundaries for each level of refinancing costs (i.e., one set of boundaries for each refinancing cost category of mortgagors). In the second step, the prepayment boundaries determined in the first step are used in conjunction with Monte Carlo simulation to value the CMO tranches. The essence of the second step is that when the simulated interest rate hits the boundary for a particular class, it triggers a prepayment scenario for that class of mortgagors. We conduct extensive sensitivity analysis to determine the robustness of this approach (and our solution procedure) to alternative single‐factor models of the term structure of interest rates and to alternative specifications of the distribution of refinancing cost levels confronted by mortgagors. The sensitivity analysis indicates that CMO tranche valuation is not particularly sensitive to alternative models of the term structure so long as the models are consistent with the current yield curve, but, even when alternative specifications of the refinancing cost categories generate nearly identical values for the collateral underlying the CMO (i.e., the generic mortgage‐backed securities), the resulting tranche values can differ widely between the two specifications. The results point out the importance of accurate estimation of the distribution of refinancing costs when the rational valuation model is used for the analysis of CMO tranches.

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