our receiver. The Dodd-Frank Act also requires SIFIs to undergo and publish self-run stress tests semi-annually and stress tests run by the Federal Reserve annually, and to provide periodic credit exposure reports to the Federal Reserve and FSOC. If we are designated as a SIFI, such regulations could affect the nature of our investments, the level of leverage that we employ, the type of financing that we rely on, our ability to conduct acquisitions or dispositions and the manner in which we conduct our business, and could thereby have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Market conditions have disrupted the historical relationship between interest rate changes and prepayment trends, which make it more difficult for our Manager to analyze our investment portfolio.
Our success depends, in part, on our Manager's ability to analyze the relationship of changing interest rates on prepayments of the mortgage loans that underlie securities we may own. Changes in interest rates and prepayments affect the market price of the assets that we purchase and any assets that we may hold at a given time. As part of our overall portfolio risk management, our Manager analyzes interest rate changes and prepayment trends separately and collectively to assess their effects on our investment portfolio. In conducting its analysis, our Manager depends on certain assumptions based upon historical trends with respect to the relationship between interest rates and prepayments under normal market conditions. The recent dislocations in the residential mortgage market and other developments have disrupted the relationship between the way that prepayment trends have historically responded to interest rate changes and, consequently, may negatively impact our Manager's ability to (i) assess the market value of our investment portfolio, (ii) implement our hedging strategies and (iii) implement techniques to reduce our prepayment rate volatility, which could materially adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.
Continued adverse developments in the broader residential mortgage and RMBS markets may adversely affect the value of our investments.
Since 2008, the residential mortgage market in the United States has experienced a variety of unprecedented difficulties and changed economic conditions, including defaults, credit losses and liquidity concerns. Many of these conditions are expected to continue in 2012 and beyond. Certain commercial banks, investment banks and insurance companies announced extensive losses from exposure to the residential mortgage market. These losses reduced financial industry capital, leading to reduced liquidity for some institutions. These factors have impacted investor perception of the risk associated with real estate related assets, including mortgage-related investments. As a result, values for these assets have experienced a certain amount of volatility. Further increased volatility and deterioration in the broader residential mortgage and RMBS markets may adversely affect the performance and market value of the assets in which we invest.
The risks associated with our business are more severe during economic recessions and are compounded by declining real estate values. Declining real estate values will likely reduce the level of new mortgage loan originations since borrowers often use appreciation in the value of their existing properties to support the purchase of additional properties. Borrowers will also be less able to pay principal and interest on loans underlying the securities in which we invest if the value of residential real estate weakens further. Any sustained period of increased payment delinquencies, foreclosures or losses could increase the rate that the GSEs buyout delinquent loans from pools underlying the agency securities in which we invest, resulting in an increased rate of prepayments that could adversely affect our net interest income from our agency securities, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Most of our investments are recorded at fair value, and quoted prices or observable inputs may not be available to determine such value, resulting in the use of significant unobservable inputs to determine value.
We expect that the values of some of our investments may not be readily determinable. We measure the fair value of these investments quarterly, in accordance with guidance set forth in FASB Accounting Standards Codification ("ASC") Topic 820, Fair Value Measurements and Disclosures. The fair value at which our assets are recorded may not be an indication of their realizable value. Ultimate realization of the value of an asset depends to a great extent on economic and other conditions that are beyond the control of our Manager, our company or our Board of Directors. Further, fair value is only an estimate based on good faith judgment of the price at which an investment can be sold since market prices of investments can only be determined by negotiation between a willing buyer and seller. If we were to liquidate a particular asset, the realized value may be more than or less than the amount at which such asset is valued. Accordingly, the value of our common stock could be adversely affected by our determinations regarding the fair value of our investments, whether in the applicable period or in the future. Additionally, such valuations may fluctuate over short periods of time.
In certain cases, our Manager's determination of the fair value of our investments include inputs provided by third-party dealers and pricing services. Valuations of certain investments in which we invest may be difficult to obtain or unreliable. In general, dealers and pricing services heavily disclaim their valuations. Dealers may claim to furnish valuations only as an accommodation and without special compensation, and so they may disclaim any and all liability for any direct, incidental, or consequential damages arising out of any inaccuracy or incompleteness in valuations, including any act of negligence or breach of any warranty. Depending on the complexity and illiquidity of a security, valuations of the same security can vary substantially