The Subsidy Provided by the Federal Safety Net: Theory, Measurement, and Containment
This paper presents an intuitive and analytical model of how the federal safety net affects banks' cost of funds. Emphasis is placed on distinguishing between fixed and marginal costs in banking and on the implications of the model for measuring the subsidy. Empirical results strongly suggest that the safety net has benefitted banks and that over recent years bank holding companies have tended to move activities into a bank or a bank subsidiary. We conclude that limiting extension of the safety net subsidy should be a serious concern when designing strategies for expanding bank activities.
The Community Reinvestment Act and the Profitability of Mortgage-Oriented Banks
The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requires lenders ``to help meet the credit needs of the local communities in which they are chartered, consistent with the safe and sound operation of such institutions.'' For proponents of efficient markets, the CRA is a threat to lender profitability. For others, the CRA has the potential to increase profitability. We examine the relative profitability of commercial banks that specialize in mortgage lending in lower-income neighborhoods or to lower-income borrowers using three different techniques, and find that lenders active in lower-income ...
GSE guarantees, financial stability, and home equity accumulation
Before 2008, the government?s ?implicit guarantee? of the securities issued by the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac led to practices by these institutions that threatened financial stability. In 2008, the Federal Housing Finance Agency placed these GSEs into conservatorship. Conservatorship was intended to be temporary but has now reached its tenth year, and policymakers continue to weigh options for reform. In this article, the authors assess both implicit and explicit government guarantees for the GSEs. They argue that adopting a legislatively defined ...
The FHA and the GSEs as countercyclical tools in the mortgage markets
The authors examine the connection between government mortgage programs and economic outcomes during and after the financial crisis. They find a strong correlation between counties that participated more heavily in Federal Housing Administration (FHA)/Veterans Affairs (VA) and government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) mortgage lending before the crisis and better economic outcomes during and after the crisis. Although the financial crisis was a substantial shock to all counties, those more reliant on FHA/VA or GSE lending experienced smaller increases in unemployment rates; smaller declines in ...
The Community Reinvestment Act and the profitability of mortgage-oriented banks
The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requires lenders "to help meet the credit needs of the local communities in which they are chartered, consistent with the safe and sound operation of such institutions.'' For proponents of efficient markets, the CRA is a threat to lender profitability. For others, the CRA has the potential to increase profitability. We examine the relative profitability of commercial banks that specialize in mortgage lending in lower-income neighborhoods or to lower-income borrowers using three different techniques, and find that lenders active in lower-income ...
Federal Home Loan Bank advances and commercial bank portfolio composition
The primary mission of the 12 cooperatively owned Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBs) is to provide their members financial products and services to assist and enhance member housing finance. In this paper, we consider the role of the FHLBs' traditional product--"advances," or collateralized loans to members--in stabilizing commercial bank members' residential mortgage lending activities. ; Our theoretical model shows that using membership criteria (such as a minimum of 10 percent of the portfolio being in mortgage-related assets) or using mortgage-related assets as collateral does not ensure ...
The GSE implicit subsidy and value of government ambiguity
The housing-related government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the "GSEs") have an ambiguous relationship with the federal government. Most purchasers of the GSEs' debt securities believe that this debt is implicitly backed by the U.S. government despite the lack of a legal basis for such a belief. In this paper, I estimate how much GSE shareholders gain from this ambiguous government relationship. I find that (1) the federal government's implicit subsidy of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has resulted in a funding advantage for the GSEs over private sector institutions, (2) ...
Optimal bank portfolios and the credit crunch