“Flip This House”: Investor Speculation and the Housing Bubble
The recent financial crisis—the worst in eighty years—had its origins in the enormous increase and subsequent collapse in housing prices during the 2000s. While the housing bubble has been the subject of intense public debate and research, no single answer has emerged to explain why prices rose so fast and fell so precipitously. In this post, we present new findings from our recent New York Fed study that uses unique data to suggest that real estate “investors”—borrowers who use financial leverage in the form of mortgage credit to purchase multiple residential properties—played a ...
Evaluating the Rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
In September 2008, the U.S. government engineered a dramatic rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, placing the two firms into conservatorship and committing billions of taxpayer dollars to stabilize their financial position. While these actions were characterized at the time as a temporary ?time out,? seven years later the firms remain in conservatorship and their ultimate fate is uncertain. In this post, we evaluate the success of the 2008 rescue on several key dimensions, drawing from our recent research article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.
The Homeownership Gap Is Finally Closing
The homeownership rate peaked at 69 percent in late 2004. By the summer of 2016, it had dropped below 63 percent?exactly where it was when the government started reporting these data back in 1965. The housing bust played a central role in this decline. We capture this effect through what we call the homeownership gap?the difference between the official homeownership rate and the ?effective? rate where only homeowners with positive equity in their house are counted. The effective rate takes into account that a borrower does not in an economic sense own the house if the mortgage debt is greater ...
A Close Look at the Decline of Homeownership
The homeownership rate?the percentage of households that own rather than rent the homes that they live in?has fallen sharply since mid-2005. In fact, in the second quarter of 2016 the homeownership rate fell to 62.9 percent, its lowest level since 1965. In this blog post, we look at underlying demographic trends to gain a deeper understanding of the large increase in the homeownership rate from 1995 to 2005 and the subsequent large decline. Although there is reason to believe that the homeownership rate may begin to rise again in the not-too-distant future, it is unlikely to fully recover to ...
What the Fed did and why
Remarks at the Westchester County Bankers Association, Tarrytown, New York.
A strategy for the 2011 economic recovery
Remarks at Dominican College, Orangeburg, New York.
The shape of the recovery
Remarks at the Connecticut Business and Industry Association/MetroHartford Alliance Economic Summit and Outlook 2011, Hartford, Connecticut
Housing busts and household mobility
Using two decades of American Housing Survey data from 1985 to 2005, we estimate the influence of negative home equity and rising mortgage interest rates on household mobility. We find that both factors lead to lower, not higher, mobility rates over time. The effects are economically large -- mobility is almost 50 percent lower for owners with negative equity in their homes. This finding does not imply that current concerns over defaults and homeowners having to relocate are entirely misplaced. It does indicate that, in the past, the mortgage lock-in effects of these two factors were dominant ...
The supply side of the housing boom and bust of the 2000s
The boom and subsequent bust in housing construction and prices over the 2000s is widely regarded as a principal contributor to the Financial Panic of 2007 and the subsequent Great Recession. As of this writing, housing market activity remains at depressed levels as the economy slowly resolves the legacy of excess supply and sharply lower prices. Over 2.6 million foreclosures have been completed since 2008 and 1.9 million foreclosures are in process. Much has been written about the demand side of this pronounced housing cycle, in particular, the innovations in mortgage finance and the ...
ESOP fables: the impact of employee stock ownership plans on labor disputes
By the early 1990s, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) had become as prevalent in unionized firms as in nonunionized firms. However, little research has been devoted to examining the implications of ESOPs for collective bargaining or, more generally, for cross ownership. In this paper, we extend the signaling model of Cramton and Tracy (1992) to allow partial ownership by the union. We demonstrate that ESOPs create incentives for unions to become weaker bargainers. As a result, the model predicts that ESOPs will lead to a reduction in strike incidence and in the fraction of labor disputes ...