Personal bankruptcy and credit market competition
The effect of credit market competition on borrower default is theoretically ambiguous, because the quantity of credit supplied may rise or fall following an increase in competition. We investigate empirically the relationship between credit market competition, lending to households, and personal bankruptcy rates in the United States. We exploit the exogenous variation in market contestability brought on by banking deregulation at the state level: after deregulation, banks faced the threat of entry into their state markets. We find that deregulation increased competition for borrowers, ...
Making sense of the subprime crisis
This paper explores the question of whether market participants could have or should have anticipated the large increase in foreclosures that occurred in 2007 and 2008. Most of these foreclosures stem from loans originated in 2005 and 2006, leading many to suspect that lenders originated a large volume of extremely risky loans during this period. However, the authors show that while loans originated in this period did carry extra risk factors, particularly increased leverage, underwriting standards alone cannot explain the dramatic rise in foreclosures. Focusing on the role of house prices, ...
Federal Reserve research on government-sponsored enterprises
Measuring the CRA subsidy in mortgage markets
GSEs, mortgage rates, and secondary market activities
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that purchase mortgages and issue mortgage-backed securities (MBS). In addition, the GSEs are active participants in the primary and secondary mortgage markets on behalf of their own portfolios of MBS. Because these portfolios have grown quite large, portfolio purchases as well as MBS issuance are likely to be important forces in the mortgage market. This paper examines the statistical evidence of a connection between GSE actions and the interest rates paid by mortgage borrowers. We find that both portfolio purchases and ...
The incentives of mortgage servicers: myths and realities
As foreclosure initiations have soared over the past couple of years, many have questioned whether mortgage servicers have the right incentives to work out troubled subprime mortgages so that borrowers can avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes. Some critics claim that because servicers, unlike investors, do not bear the losses associated with foreclosure, they have little incentive to modify troubled loans by reducing interest rates or principal, or by extending the term. Our analysis suggests that while servicers have substantially improved borrower outreach and increased loss ...
Financial Vulnerabilities, Macroeconomic Dynamics, and Monetary Policy
We define a measure to be a financial vulnerability if, in a VAR framework that allows for nonlinearities, an impulse to the measure leads to an economic contraction. We evaluate alternative macrofinancial imbalances as vulnerabilities: nonfinancial sector credit, risk appetite of financial market participants, and the leverage and short-term funding of financial firms. We find that nonfinancial credit is a vulnerability: impulses to the credit-to-GDP gap when it is high leads to a recession. Risk appetite leads to an economic expansion in the near-term, but also higher credit and a recession ...
Does the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) cause banks to provide a subsidy to some mortgage borrowers?
The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) encourages lenders to make mortgage loans to certain classes of borrowers. However, the law does not apply to all lenders, and lenders do not necessarily receive credit for all loans made to borrowers of a particular class. We use this variation to test whether or not CRA-affected lenders cut interest rates to CRA-eligible borrowers; in other words, we test for the presence of a regulation-driven subsidy. Our theory suggests that loans made by commercial banks and savings associations (``relationship lenders'') and mortgage companies (``transaction ...
Pricing systemic crises: monetary and fiscal policy when savers are uncertain
The return on assets depends on the joint behavior of all savers; if all sell the asset simultaneously, then there will be a financial "Armageddon." We assume that risk-neutral savers' information about aggregate investment is too vague to form precise probability estimates, so they have Knightian uncertainty, and thus act to maximize their minimum payoff. Savers invest in a risky asset (economy-wide production) and in a riskless asset (government bonds). In times of high uncertainty, savers hold too many government bonds, lowering output. A monetary policy of lowering the risk-free rate ...