Health Insurance as an Income Stabilizer
We evaluate the effect of health insurance on the incidence of negative income shocks using the tax data and survey responses of nearly 14,000 low income households. Us-ing a regression discontinuity (RD) design and variation in the cost of nongroup pri-vate health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, we find that eligibility for sub-sidized Marketplace insurance is associated with a 16% and 9% decline in the rates of unexpected job loss and income loss, respectively. Effects are concentrated among households with past health costs and exist only for “unexpected” forms of earnings ...
We show that prior lifetime experiences can "scar" consumers. Consumers who have lived through times of high unemployment exhibit persistent pessimism about their future financial situation and spend significantly less, controlling for the standard life-cycle consumption factors, even though their actual future income is uncorrelated with past experiences. Due to their experience-induced frugality, scarred consumers build up more wealth. We use a stochastic lifecycle model to show that the negative relationship between past experiences and consumption cannot be generated by financial ...
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 ...
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.
A Quantitative Theory of the Credit Score
What is the role of credit scores in credit markets? We argue that it is a stand in for a market assessment of a person's unobservable type (which here we take to be patience). We pose a model of persistent hidden types where observable actions shape the public assessment of a person's type via Bayesian updating. We show how dynamic reputation can incentivize repayment without monetary costs of default beyond the administrative cost of filing for bankruptcy. Importantly we show how an economy with credit scores implements the same equilibrium allocation. We estimate the model using both ...
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. ...
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 ...
A Quantitative Theory of the Credit Score
What is the role of credit scores in credit markets? We argue that it is a stand-in for a market assessment of a person’s unobservable type (which here we take to be patience). We pose a model of persistent hidden types where observable actions shape the public assessment of a person’s type via Bayesian updating. We show how dynamic reputation can incentivize repayment without monetary costs of default beyond the administrative cost of filing for bankruptcy. Importantly, we show how an economy with credit scores implements the same equilibrium allocation. We estimate the model using both ...
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 ...
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 ...