Subprime foreclosures and the 2005 bankruptcy reform
This article presents arguments and evidence suggesting that the bankruptcy abuse reform (BAR) of 2005 may have been one contributor to the destabilizing surge in subprime foreclosures. Before BAR took effect, overly indebted borrowers could file bankruptcy to free up income to pay their mortgage by having their credit card and other unsecured debts discharged. BAR eliminated that option for better-off filers through a means test and other requirements, thus making it harder to save one?s home by filing bankruptcy. By way of evidence, the authors show that the impact of BAR was greater in ...
Subprime mortgages, foreclosures, and urban neighborhoods
This paper analyzes the impact of the subprime crisis on urban neighborhoods in Massachusetts. The topic is explored using a dataset that matches race and income information from HMDA 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 proven exceptionally unstable in the face of rapid price declines. The evidence from Massachusetts suggests that subprime lending did not, as is ...
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.
Why don't lenders renegotiate more home mortgages?: redefaults, self-cures, and securitization
We document the fact that servicers have been reluctant to renegotiate mortgages since the foreclosure crisis started in 2007, having performed payment-reducing modifications on only about 3 percent of seriously delinquent loans. We show that this reluctance does not result from securitization: servicers renegotiate similarly small fractions of loans that they hold in their portfolios. Our results are robust to different definitions of renegotiation, including the one most likely to be affected by securitization, and to different definitions of delinquency. Our results are strongest in ...
Making sense of the subprime crisis
This paper explores the question of whether market participants could have or should have anticipated the large increase in foreclosures that occurred in 2007 and 2008. Most of these foreclosures stem from loans originated in 2005 and 2006, leading many to suspect that lenders originated a large volume of extremely risky loans during this period. However, the authors show that while loans originated in this period did carry extra risk factors, particularly increased leverage, underwriting standards alone cannot explain the dramatic rise in foreclosures. Focusing on the role of house prices, ...
What the Fed did and why
Remarks at the Westchester County Bankers Association, Tarrytown, New York.
Juvenile delinquent mortgages: bad credit or bad economy?
We study early default, defined as serious delinquency or foreclosure in the first year, among nonprime mortgages from the 2001 to 2007 vintages. After documenting a dramatic rise in such defaults and discussing their correlates, we examine two primary explanations: changes in underwriting standards that took place over this period and changes in the economic environment. We find that while credit standards were important in determining the probability of an early default, changes in the economy after 2004 - especially a sharp reversal in house price appreciation - were the more critical ...
Subprime mortgage lending in New York City: prevalence and performance
Subprime mortgage lending expanded in New York City between 2004 and mid-2007, and delinquencies on these subprime loans have been rising sharply. We use a rich, loan-level data set of the city's outstanding subprime loans as of January 2009 to describe the main features of this lending and to model the performance of these loans. These subprime loans represent a smaller share of total housing units in the city than is true nationwide. In addition, they are found to be clustered in neighborhoods where average borrower credit quality is low and, unlike prime mortgage loans, where ...
Subprime mortgage pricing: the impact of race, ethnicity, and gender on the cost of borrowing
Some observers have argued that minority borrowers and neighborhoods were targeted for expensive credit in 2004-06, the peak period for subprime lending. To investigate this claim, we take advantage of a new data set that merges demographic information on subprime borrowers with information on the mortgages they took out. In a sample of more than 75,000 adjustable-rate mortgages, we find no evidence of adverse pricing by race, ethnicity, or gender in either the initial rate or the reset margin. Indeed, if any pricing differential exists, minority borrowers appear to pay slightly lower rates, ...
Understanding the securitization of subprime mortgage credit
In this paper, we provide an overview of the subprime mortgage securitization process and the seven key informational frictions that arise. We discuss the ways that market participants work to minimize these frictions and speculate on how this process broke down. We continue with a complete picture of the subprime borrower and the subprime loan, discussing both predatory borrowing and predatory lending. We present the key structural features of a typical subprime securitization, document how rating agencies assign credit ratings to mortgage-backed securities, and outline how these agencies ...