When the share of CCC-rated debt in a CLO exceeds the 7.5 percent threshold, the manager of the securitized vehicle has to make a choice between two possible ways forward, both of which could rattle markets. He/she might dump lower-rated loans at fire-sale prices or suspend interest payments to investors with exposure to the bonds in the instrument’s lower-level tranches. According to Bank of America, 30 percent of CLOs may already be exceeding that capacity.The Financial Times wrote that ratings agencies have put more than 1,000 “slices” of debt in CLOs on review, with expectations that the result will lead to a tidal wave of downgrades. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place orders that came from governments wanting to contain it, have led regulators to re-evaluate the economic landscape and adjust the ratings of what is now riskier debt accordingly.
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