Working Paper

Homeowner Balance Sheets and Monetary Policy

Abstract: This paper empirically identifies an important channel through which monetary policy affects consumer spending: homeowner balance sheets. A monetary loosening increases home values, thereby strengthening homeowner balance sheets and stimulating household spending due to a combination of collateral and wealth effects. The magnitude of these effects on a given household depends on local housing market characteristics such as local geography and regulation. Cities with the largest geographic and regulatory barriers to new construction see 3-4 percent responses in real house prices compared with unconstrained, elastic-supply cities where construction holds prices in check. Using non-public geocoded microdata from the Consumer Expenditures Survey, house price and consumption responses are compared across areas differing in local land availability and zoning laws to identify a marginal propensity to consume out of housing of 0.07. Homeowners with debt service ratios in the highest quartile have MPCs as high as 0.14 compared with negligible responses for those with low debt service ratios. This indicates a strong role for collateral effects, as opposed to pure wealth effects, in driving the relationship between home values and spending. I discuss the implications of these results for the aggregate effects and regional heterogeneity in responses to monetary shocks.

Keywords: Consumption; housing; wealth effects; collateral; home equity; monetary policy;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)

Part of Series: Finance and Economics Discussion Series

Publication Date: 2014-10-21

Number: 2014-98

Pages: 41 pages