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Jel Classification:G51 

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Credit Access and Mobility during the Flint Water Crisis

How do credit-constrained communities cope with the financial consequences of environmental crises? Beginning in April 2014, the residents of Flint, Michigan, were exposed to lead-contaminated water resulting from a series of governmental missteps. In this paper, we use the spatial distribution of lead and galvanized pipes in Flint to study the effect of the crisis on households’ financial health, including loan balances, repayment of outstanding debt, and Equifax Risk Scores, as well as on household mobility. We find that relatively more affected households, as measured by exposure to lead ...
Staff Reports , Paper 960

Working Paper
Trends in household portfolio composition

We use data from the Federal Reserve Board?s Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) to explore how household asset portfolios in the United States evolved between 1989 and 2016. Throughout this period, two key assets ? housing and financial market assets ? drove the household balance sheet evolution; however, we find a great heterogeneity in the balance sheets that averages and aggregates conceal. We observe that ownership of assets has become more concentrated over time, and we show that nearly all of the time series variation in financial vulnerabilities in family balance sheets is due to ...
Working Papers , Paper 19-9

Working Paper
Mortgage Prepayment, Race, and Monetary Policy

This paper documents large differences in mortgage prepayment behavior across racial and ethnic groups in the United States, which have significant implications for monetary policy, inequality, and pricing. Using a novel data set that combines administrative data on mortgage performance with information on race and ethnicity, we show that Black and Hispanic white borrowers have significantly lower prepayment rates compared with Non-Hispanic white borrowers, holding income, credit score, and equity constant. This gap is on the order of 50 percent and largely reflects different sensitivities ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-7

Working Paper
Do Lenders Still Discriminate? A Robust Approach for Assessing Differences in Menus

We use a new methodology to assess mortgage pricing discrimination faced by minority borrowers. We identify a “menu problem” that comes from the multidimensional nature of mortgage pricing: When getting a mortgage, borrowers can choose to avoid closing costs and pay a high interest rate or contribute to closing costs to get a lower rate. While data on both dimensions of mortgage pricing are by now often available, intuitively attractive metrics of lender pricing discrimination used in the literature can lead to both false and contradictory results. For example, it is sometimes observed ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-19

Working Paper
On the Importance of Household versus Firm Credit Frictions in the Great Recession

Although a credit tightening is commonly recognized as a key determinant of the Great Recession, to date, it is unclear whether a worsening of credit conditions faced by households or by firms was most responsible for the downturn. Some studies have suggested that the household-side credit channel is quantitatively the most important one. Many others contend that the firm-side channel played a crucial role. We propose a model in which both channels are present and explicitly formalized. Our analysis indicates that the household-side credit channel is quantitatively more relevant than the ...
Working Papers , Paper 202028

Working Paper
Municipal Markets and the Municipal Liquidity Facility

Municipal bond markets experienced a significant amount of strain in response to the COVID-19 crisis, creating liquidity and credit concerns among market participants. During the economic shutdown resulting from the pandemic, income tax revenues were deferred and sales tax revenues decreased beginning in spring 2020, while the cost of borrowing significantly increased for municipal issuers. To aid municipal borrowing needs, the Federal Reserve implemented the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) on April 9, 2020. In this analysis we describe the municipal market conditions as they evolved ...
Working Papers , Paper 202107

Working Paper
Mortgage Prepayment, Race, and Monetary Policy

During the period 2005 to 2020, Black borrowers with mortgages insured by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac paid interest rates that were almost 50 basis points higher than those paid by non-Hispanic white borrowers. We show that the main reason is that non-Hispanic white borrowers are much more likely to exploit periods of falling interest rates by refinancing their mortgages or moving. Black and Hispanic white borrowers face challenges refinancing because, on average, they have lower credit scores, equity, and income. But even holding those factors constant, Black and Hispanic white borrowers ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2020-22

Working Paper
Paying Too Much? Price Dispersion in the U.S. Mortgage Market

We document wide dispersion in the mortgage rates that households pay on identical loans, and show that borrowers' financial sophistication is an important determinant of the rates obtained. We estimate a gap between the 10th and 90th percentile mortgage rate that borrowers with the same characteristics obtain for identical loans, in the same market, on the same day, of 54 basis points|equivalent to about $6,500 in upfront costs (points) for the average loan. Time-invariant lender attributes explain little of this rate dispersion, and considerable dispersion remains even within loan officer. ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2020-062

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

Working Paper
Financial Profiles of Workers Most Vulnerable to Coronavirus-Related Earnings Loss in the Spring of 2020

In spring 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns had huge effects on unemployment. Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, we describe the financial profiles of US families whose workers were most vulnerable to coronavirus-related earnings losses in the spring of 2020, based on whether a particular worker was deemed "essential" and whether a worker's job could be conducted remotely. We use descriptive analytic techniques to examine how families' baseline financial situations would allow them to weather COVID-shutdown-related earnings losses. We find that families with ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2020-093

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