Behind Wall Street's subprime fear index

The formerly obscure ABX index has become a closely watched gauge of just how bad the market for subprime securities is getting.

Understanding the ABX
Understanding the ABX
At a time when almost nothing about subprime securities seems certain, the ABX index is a key point of reference for investors navigating the world of risky mortgage debt.

The ABX, launched in January 2007, serves as a benchmark of the market for securities backed by home loans issued to borrowers with weak credit.

"Creating visibility and transparency was a goal of the index, but not everyone knew it would be so closely followed," said Ben Logan, a managing director at Markit Group, a London-based company that specializes in credit derivative pricing and administers the index.

Underlying the mortgage mess has been the fact that "no one knows what subprime securities are really worth," said Barry Ritholtz, director of equity research for New York-based FusionIQ, a quantitative research and asset management firm.


The ABX

Hedging a bet

What's in a name

More drama

On the horizon

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Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.