Educational opportunity and income inequality
Affordable higher education is, and has been, a key element of social policy in the United States with broad bipartisan support. Financial aid has substantially increased the number of people who complete university?generally thought to be a good thing. We show, however, that making education more affordable can increase income inequality. The mechanism that drives our results is a combination of credit constraints and the ?signaling? role of education first explored by Spence (1973). When borrowing for education is difficult, lack of a college education could mean that one is either of low ...
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 ...
$1.25 Trillion is still real money : some facts about the effects of the Federal Reserve’s mortgage market investments
This paper measures the effects on the primary U.S. mortgage market of the large-scale asset purchase (LSAP) program in which the Federal Reserve bought $1.25 trillion of mortgage-backed securities in 2009 and 2010. We use an event-study approach and measure the movements in both prices and quantities around the initial announcement of the LSAP and subsequent changes to the program. We use a new dataset to document the changes in the menu of rates and points offered to borrowers and show that there was wide dispersion in the rate changes generated by the announcement of the LSAP program, with ...
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 ...
The Failure of supervisory stress testing: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and OFHEO
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, policymakers in the United States and elsewhere have adopted stress testing as a central tool for supervising large, complex, financial institutions and promoting financial stability. Although supervisory stress testing may confer substantial benefits, such tests are vulnerable to model risk. This paper studies the risk-based capital stress test conducted by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that are central to the U.S. housing finance ...
Cross-sectional patterns of mortgage debt during the housing boom: evidence and implications
The reallocation of mortgage debt to low-income or marginally qualified borrowers plays a central role in many explanations of the early 2000s housing boom. We show that such a reallocation never occurred, as the distribution of mortgage debt with respect to income changed little even as the aggregate stock of debt grew rapidly. Moreover, because mortgage debt varies positively with income in the cross section, equal percentage increases in debt among high- and low-income borrowers meant that wealthy borrowers accounted for most new debt in dollar terms. Previous research stressing the ...
The role of proximity in foreclosure externalities: evidence from condominiums
We explore several different explanations of the effect of foreclosures on neighboring properties using a dataset of transactions in Boston, for which we have rich data on the size and location of condominium associations. There is compelling evidence against a supply effect?nearby condo foreclosures in different associations, and even those within the same association but at different physical addresses, have little impact on condo sale prices. However, condos transact at average discounts of 2.4 percent when a foreclosure shares the same physical address. We view the results as indicating ...
Tight credit conditions continue to constrain the housing recovery
The expansion of Federal Housing Administration lending has let households with imperfect credit or the inability to make a large down payment maintain access to mortgage borrowing. Rather than excluding such households, lenders have been applying strict underwriting conditions on all borrowers. Clarifying what constitutes approved lending may help relax credit conditions with minimal increase in risk.
Evaluating the Benefits of a Streamlined Refinance Program
Mortgage borrowers who have experienced employment disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are unable to refinance their loans to take advantage of historically low market rates. In this article, we analyze the effects of a streamlined refinance (“refi”) program for government-insured loans that would allow borrowers to refinance without needing to document employment or income. In addition, we consider a cash-out component that would allow borrowers to extract some of the substantial housing equity that many have accumulated in recent years.
Incomplete markets and trade
In this paper, we show that incomplete markets lead to trade imbalances. We use a two-period general equilibrium model with countries composed of heterogeneous households. We look at a world where, when markets are complete, countries engage in balanced trade and we show that when some of those markets are absent, trade imbalances emerge. Market incompleteness across countries causes trade imbalances because national income in some countries is more sensitive to risky asset payoffs than in others. Market incompleteness within countries causes trade imbalances because superior risk-sharing in ...