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Author:Willen, Paul S. 

Discussion Paper
Social Security and unsecured debt

Most young households simultaneously hold both unsecured debt on which they pay an average of 10 percent interest and social security wealth on which they earn less than 2 percent. We document this fact using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We then consider a life-cycle model with ?tempted? households, who find it impossible to commit to an optimal consumption plan and ?disciplined? households who have no such problem, and we explore ways to reduce this inefficiency. We show that allowing households to use social security wealth to pay off debt while exempting young households ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 04-10

Discussion Paper
Why did so many people make so many ex post bad decisions?: the causes of the foreclosure crisis

This paper presents 12 facts about the mortgage market. The authors argue that the facts refute the popular story that the crisis resulted from financial industry insiders deceiving uninformed mortgage borrowers and investors. Instead, they argue that borrowers and investors made decisions that were rational and logical given their ex post overly optimistic beliefs about house prices. The authors then show that neither institutional features of the mortgage market nor financial innovations are any more likely to explain those distorted beliefs than they are to explain the Dutch tulip bubble ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 12-2

Report
The time-varying price of financial intermediation in the mortgage market

The U.S. mortgage market links homeowners with savers all over the world. In this paper, we ask how much of the flow of money from savers to borrowers goes to the intermediaries that facilitate these transactions. Based on a new methodology and a new administrative data set, we find that the price of intermediation, measured as a fraction of the loan amount at origination, is large?142 basis points on average over the 2008-14 period. At daily frequencies, intermediaries pass on price changes in the secondary market to borrowers in the primary market almost completely. At monthly frequencies, ...
Staff Reports , Paper 805

Discussion Paper
Reducing foreclosures

This paper takes a skeptical look at a leading argument about what is causing the foreclosure crisis and what should be done to stop it. We use an economic model to focus on two key decisions: the borrower?s choice to default on the mortgage and the lender?s choice on whether to renegotiate or ?modify? the loan. The theoretical model and econometric analysis illustrate that ?unaffordable? loans, defined as those with high mortgage payments relative to income at origination, are unlikely to be the main reason that borrowers decide to default. Rather, the typical problem appears to be a ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 09-2

Working Paper
Subprime mortgages, foreclosures, and urban neighborhoods

This paper analyzes the impact of the subprime mortgage crisis on urban neighborhoods in Massachusetts. We explore the topic using a data set that matches race and income information from Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data with property-level, transaction data from Massachusetts Registry of Deeds offices. With these data, we show that much of the subprime lending in the state was concentrated in urban neighborhoods and that minority homeownerships created with subprime mortgages have proved exceptionally unstable in the face of rapid price declines. The evidence in Massachusetts suggests that ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2009-01

Discussion Paper
Do households benefit from financial deregulation and innovation?: the case of the mortgage market

The U.S. mortgage market has experienced phenomenal change over the last 35 years. Most observers believe that the deregulation of the banking industry and financial markets generally has played an important part in this transformation. One issue that has received particular attention is the role that the housing Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have played in the development of a secondary market in mortgages. This paper develops and implements a technique for assessing the impact of changes in the mortgage market on individuals and households. ; Our ...
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 06-6

Working Paper
Do borrower rights improve borrower outcomes? Evidence from the foreclosure process

Many have argued that laws that give borrowers additional rights can help prevent unnecessary foreclosures by giving borrowers more time to cure their delinquencies or by facilitating workouts. We first compare states that allow power-of-sale foreclosures with states that do not and find that preventing power-of-sale foreclosures extends the foreclosure timeline dramatically but does not, in the long run, lead to fewer foreclosures. Borrowers in states that allow power-of-sale foreclosure are no less likely to cure and no less likely to renegotiate their loans. We then exploit a ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2011-16

Conference Paper
A summary of: \"Do households benefit from financial deregulation and innovation? the case of mortgage market\"

Proceedings , Paper 1054

Foreclosures, house-price changes, and subprime mortgages in Massachusetts cities and towns

This module shows: The changing patterns in foreclosure rates and subprime mortgage originations across Massachusetts cities and towns over time; How movements in these rates compare with movements in house prices for any user-selected city or town; The association between foreclosure rates and median income in these cities and towns.
Interactive Maps and Charts

Discussion Paper
Subprime facts: what (we think) we know about the subprime crisis and what we don’t

Using a variety of datasets, we document some basic facts about the current subprime crisis. Many of these facts are applicable to the crisis at a national level, while some illustrate problems relevant only to Massachusetts and New England. We conclude by discussing some outstanding questions about which the data, we believe, are not yet conclusive.
Public Policy Discussion Paper , Paper 08-2

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