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Jel Classification:G51 

Discussion Paper
Introducing the SCE Public Policy Survey

Households cope with considerable uncertainty in forming plans and making decisions. This includes uncertainty about their personal situations as well as about their external environment. An important source of uncertainty arises from (often abrupt) changes in government policy, including changes in tax rates and in the benefit level of social programs. Tracking individuals’ subjective beliefs about future policy changes is important for understanding their behavior as consumers and workers. For example, knowing the extent to which tax changes and other shifts in public policy are ...
Liberty Street Economics , Paper 20191017

Working Paper
Saving and Wealth Accumulation among Student Loan Borrowers: Implications for Retirement Preparedness

Borrowing for education has increased rapidly in the past several decades, such that the majority of non-housing debt on US households' balance sheets is now student loan debt. This chapter analyzes the implications of student loan borrowing for later-life economic well-being, with a focus on retirement preparation. We demonstrate that families holding student loan debt later in life have less savings than their similarly educated peers without such debt. However, these comparisons are misleading if the goal is to characterize the experience of the typical student borrower, as they fail to ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2022-019

Working Paper
The Behavioral Relationship Between Mortgage Prepayment and Default

An implication of the dual trigger theory of default is that mortgage borrowers who experience an unexpected financial reverse will prepay their mortgage rather than default if their equity in the house is positive. We test this idea with a new data set created by matching mortgage servicing records and credit bureau records to classify prepayments by what happens subsequently. In particular, we can identify a subset of prepayments that seems consistent with the dual trigger theory. If the theory is correct, these prepayments should exhibit similarities to defaults in the data set rather than ...
Working Papers , Paper 21-12

Discussion Paper
Racial Differences in Mortgage Refinancing, Distress, and Housing Wealth Accumulation during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic was characterized by both high refinancing volumes and high rates of mortgage nonpayment. Refinancing activity differed significantly across racial and ethnic groups, and we show that the benefits from the lower interest rate environment were not shared equally. Compared to white borrowers, Black and Hispanic mortgage borrowers experienced higher rates of nonpayment, which reflected both a greater transition into nonpayment status for Black and Hispanic borrowers and a lower likelihood of resuming payments. However, strong house price appreciation in recent years, ...
Policy Hub , Paper 2021-06

Working Paper
Limited Participation in Equity Markets and Business Cycles

This paper studies how the rise in US households' participation in equity markets affects the transmission of macroeconomic shocks to the economy. I embed limited participation into a New Keynesian framework for the US economy to analyze the individual and aggregate effects of higher participation. I derive three main results. First, participants are relatively more responsive to shocks than nonparticipants. Second, higher participation reduces the effectiveness of monetary policy. Third, with higher participation the economy becomes less volatile. I contrast key predictions of my model with ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2021-026

Working Paper
Issues in the Use of the Balance Sheet Tool

This paper considers various ways of using balance sheet policy (BSP) to provide monetary policy stimulus, including the BSPs put in place by the Federal Reserve in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, the choice between fixed-size and flow-based asset purchase programs, policies targeting interest rate levels rather than the quantity of asset purchases, and programs aimed at increasing more direct lending to households and firms. For each of these BSP options, we evaluate benefits and costs. We conclude by observing that BSPs’ relative effectiveness and thus optimal configuration will ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2020-071

Discussion Paper
Evaluating the Benefits of a Streamlined Refinance Program

Mortgage borrowers who have experienced employment disruptions as a result of theCOVID-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 amount of housing equity that many have accumulated in recent years.
Policy Hub , Paper 2020-8

Discussion Paper
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 amount of housing equity that many have accumulated in recent years.
Policy Hub , Paper 2020-08

Newsletter
Helping Homeowners During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons from the Great Recession

The Covid-19 public health crisis has sharply reduced the earnings of millions of U.S. households, following the severe curtailment of economic activity needed to contain the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, households continue to confront their ongoing financial obligations. The ability of households to manage these obligations has important consequences for the speed at which the U.S. economy can recover from the current crisis. Households that are wiped out financially in the coming months will not be in a position to strongly resume spending once the virus containment issues have passed. ...
Chicago Fed Letter , Issue 443 , Pages 9

Report
Racial Differences in Mortgage Refinancing, Distress, and Housing Wealth Accumulation during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated racial disparities in U.S. mortgage markets. Black, Hispanic, and Asian borrowers were significantly more likely than white borrowers to miss payments due to financial distress, and significantly less likely to refinance to take advantage of the large decline in interest rates spurred by the Federal Reserve’s large-scale mortgage-backed security (MBS) purchase program. The wide-scale forbearance program, introduced by the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provided approximately equal payment relief to all distressed borrowers, ...
Current Policy Perspectives

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