Bear Stearns & Co. has announced the development of a monthly mortgage performance index aimed at helping investors assess risk when investing in mortgage-backed securities.The Bear Stearns Performance Index features nontraditional metrics such as the cash-flow status of delinquent loans and covers more than 3,000 transactions in the private-label mortgage market. "Borrower defaults have been understated in recent years because record home price increases have resulted in far fewer recorded losses -- the traditional measure of default," said Gyan Sinha, senior managing director and head of Bear Stearns' asset-backed research. "Our deal-level reports also give investors the ability to better estimate the number of borrowers who are going to default from delinquency as opposed to those who are on a successful repayment plan." The company can be found online at http://www.bearstearns.com.

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