The Effects of the Saving and Banking Glut on the U.S. Economy
We use a quantitative equilibrium model with houses, collateralized debt and foreign borrowing to study the impact of global imbalances on the U.S. economy in the 2000s. Our results suggest that the dynamics of foreign capital flows account for between one fourth and one third of the increase in U.S. house prices and household debt that preceded the financial crisis. The key to these findings is that the model generates the sustained low level of interest rates observed over that period.
Credit Supply and the Housing Boom
There is no consensus among economists as to what drove the rise of U.S. house prices and household debt in the period leading up to the recent financial crisis. In this post, we argue that the fundamental factor behind that boom was an increase in the supply of mortgage credit, which was brought about by securitization and shadow banking, along with a surge in capital inflows from abroad. This argument is based on the interpretation of four macroeconomic developments between 2000 and 2006 provided by a general equilibrium model of housing and credit.
Financial innovations and macroeconomic volatility - comments
Credit Supply and the Housing Boom
The housing boom that preceded the Great Recession was due to an increase in credit supply driven by looser lending constraints in the mortgage market. This view on the fundamental drivers of the boom is consistent with four empirical observations: the unprecedented rise in home prices and household debt, the stability of debt relative to house values, and the fall in mortgage rates. These facts are difficult to reconcile with the popular view that attributes the housing boom to looser borrowing constraints associated with lower collateral requirements. In fact, a slackening of collateral ...
What’s Up with the Phillips Curve?
U.S. inflation used to rise during economic booms, as businesses charged higher prices to cope with increases in wages and other costs. When the economy cooled and joblessness rose, inflation declined. This pattern changed around 1990. Since then, U.S. inflation has been remarkably stable, even though economic activity and unemployment have continued to fluctuate. For example, during the Great Recession unemployment reached 10 percent, but inflation barely dipped below 1 percent. More recently, even with unemployment as low as 3.5 percent, inflation remained stuck under 2 percent. What ...
The Mortgage Rate Conundrum
We document the emergence of a disconnect between mortgage and Treasury interest rates in the summer of 2003. Following the end of the Federal Reserve expansionary cycle in June 2003, mortgage rates failed to rise according to their historical relationship with Treasury yields, leading to significantly and persistently easier mortgage credit conditions. We uncover this phenomenon by analyzing a large dataset with millions of loan-level observations, which allows us to control for the impact of varying loan, borrower and geographic characteristics. These detailed data also reveal that ...
Household leveraging and deleveraging
U.S. households' debt skyrocketed between 2000 and 2007, but has since been falling. This leveraging and deleveraging cycle cannot be accounted for by the liberalization and subsequent tightening of mortgage credit standards that occurred during the period. We base this conclusion on a quantitative dynamic general equilibrium model calibrated using macroeconomic aggregates and microeconomic data from the Survey of Consumer Finances. From the perspective of the model, the credit cycle is more likely due to factors that impacted house prices more directly, thus affecting the availability of ...
Investment shocks and business cycles
Shocks to the marginal efficiency of investment are the most important drivers of business cycle fluctuations in U.S. output and hours. Moreover, like a textbook demand shock, these disturbances drive prices higher in expansions. We reach these conclusions by estimating a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model with several shocks and frictions. We also find that neutral technology shocks are not negligible, but their share in the variance of output is only around 25 percent and even lower for hours. Labor supply shocks explain a large fraction of the variation of hours at very ...
A simple model of subprime borrowers and credit growth
The surge in credit and house prices that preceded the Great Recession was particularly pronounced in ZIP codes with a higher fraction of subprime borrowers (Mian and Sufi 2009). We present a simple model of prime and subprime borrowers distributed across geographic locations, which can reproduce this stylized fact as a result of an expansion in the supply of credit. Owing to their low incomes, subprime households are constrained in their ability to meet interest payments and hence sustain debt. As a result, when the supply of credit increases and interest rates fall, they take on ...
Economic predictions with big data: the illusion of sparsity
We compare sparse and dense representations of predictive models in macroeconomics, microeconomics, and finance. To deal with a large number of possible predictors, we specify a prior that allows for both variable selection and shrinkage. The posterior distribution does not typically concentrate on a single sparse or dense model, but on a wide set of models. A clearer pattern of sparsity can only emerge when models of very low dimension are strongly favored a priori.