Securitization without adverse selection: The case of CLOs

Efraim Benmelech, Jennifer Dlugosz*, Victoria Ivashina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


In this paper, we investigate whether securitization was associated with risky lending in the corporate loan market by examining the performance of individual loans held by collateralized loan obligations. We employ two different data sets that identify loan holdings for a large set of CLOs and find that adverse selection problems in corporate loan securitizations are less severe than commonly believed. Using a battery of performance tests, we find that loans securitized before 2005 performed no worse than comparable unsecuritized loans originated by the same bank. Even loans originated by the bank that acts as the CLO underwriter do not show under-performance relative to the rest of the CLO portfolio. While some evidence exists of under-performance for securitized loans originated between 2005 and 2007, it is not consistent across samples, performance measures, and horizons. Overall, we argue that the securitization of corporate loans is fundamentally different from securitization of other assets classes because securitized loans are fractions of syndicated loans. Therefore, mechanisms used to align incentives in a lending syndicate are likely to reduce adverse selection in the choice of CLO collateral.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-113
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Financial Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • CDOs
  • Collateralized loan obligations (CLOs)
  • Structured finance
  • Syndicated loans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management


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