Asset Diversification and Low Debt Are the Keys to Building and Maintaining Wealth
Greatly expanded access to home mortgages during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s appeared to make the American dream a reality for millions of families. Homeownership was attainable by many who, for the first time, were able to take out a mortgage with an extremely low or no down payment ? even if they had a blemished credit history or none at all. For those with access to their accumulated home equity through mortgage refinancing or other home-secured borrowing, as well as to other sources of credit, lack of available cash no longer meant that they had to delay making routine purchases, buying a ...
Household leveraging and deleveraging
U.S. households' debt skyrocketed between 2000 and 2007, but has since been falling. This leveraging and deleveraging cycle cannot be accounted for by the liberalization and subsequent tightening of mortgage credit standards that occurred during the period. We base this conclusion on a quantitative dynamic general equilibrium model calibrated using macroeconomic aggregates and microeconomic data from the Survey of Consumer Finances. From the perspective of the model, the credit cycle is more likely due to factors that impacted house prices more directly, thus affecting the availability of ...
Credit Supply and the Housing Boom
There is no consensus among economists as to what drove the rise of U.S. house prices and household debt in the period leading up to the recent financial crisis. In this post, we argue that the fundamental factor behind that boom was an increase in the supply of mortgage credit, which was brought about by securitization and shadow banking, along with a surge in capital inflows from abroad. This argument is based on the interpretation of four macroeconomic developments between 2000 and 2006 provided by a general equilibrium model of housing and credit.
The Student Loan Landscape
Student loans have recently attracted a huge amount of attention from the press and policymakers. In this post, the first in our three-part series this week, we’ll use our Consumer Credit Panel dataset, a representative sample drawn from anonymized Equifax credit data, to describe the landscape of the outstanding U.S. student loan portfolio. Much of our discussion will address updates to several graphs that we’ve presented before, most recently in a 2014 staff report, “Measuring Student Debt and Its Performance”; readers can find more detail there. We’ll also update some earlier ...
Does Greater Inequality Lead to More Household Borrowing? New Evidence from Household Data
One suggested hypothesis for the dramatic rise in household borrowing that preceded the financial crisis is that low-income households increased their demand for credit to finance higher consumption expenditures in order to "keep up" with higher-income households. Using household level data on debt accumulation during 2001-2012, we show that low-income households in high-inequality regions accumulated less debt relative to income than their counterparts in lower-inequality regions, which negates the hypothesis. We argue instead that these patterns are consistent with supply-side ...
The dynamic relationship between global debt and output
Given the ramifications of indebtedness for global growth, researchers and policymakers are keenly interested in the mechanisms underlying the linkages between debt and economic output. In our research, summarized in this article, we find that a debt shock adversely affects future economic output, and the impact is most pronounced in developing countries and in countries with a fixed exchange rate regime. This information and related results from the study are useful for policymakers considering appropriate levels of debt as well as an exchange rate regime that is most conducive to economic ...
Saving Constraints, Debt, and the Credit Market Response to Fiscal Stimulus
We document that the interest rate response to fiscal stimulus (IRRF) is lower in countries with high inequality or high household debt. To interpret this evidence we develop a model in which households take on debt to maintain a consumption threshold (saving constraint). Now debt-burdened, these households use additional income to deleverage. In economies with more debt-burdened households, increases in government spending tighten credit conditions less (relax credit conditions more), leading to smaller increases (larger declines) in the interest rate. Our theoretical framework predicts that ...
Modigliani Meets Minsky: Inequality, Debt, and Financial Fragility in America, 1950-2016
This paper studies the secular increase in U.S. household debt and its relation to growing income inequality and financial fragility. We exploit a new household-level data set that covers the joint distributions of debt, income, and wealth in the United States over the past seven decades. The data show that increased borrowing by middle-class families with low income growth played a central role in rising indebtedness. Debt-to-income ratios have risen most dramatically for households between the 50th and 90th percentiles of the income distribution. While their income growth was low, ...
Just Released: A Look at Borrowing, Repayment, and Bankruptcy Rates by Age
Household debt balances increased in the third quarter of 2018, a seventeenth consecutive increase. Total debt balances reached $13.51 trillion, a level more than 20 percent above the trough reached in 2013, according to the latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit from the New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data. With today’s report we begin publishing a new set of charts that depict debt and repayment outcomes by the age of the borrower. The report and this analysis are based on the New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel (CCP), a 5 percent sample of anonymized Equifax ...
Household Debt and the Heterogeneous Effects of Forward Guidance
We develop an incomplete-markets heterogeneous agent New-Keynesian (HANK) model in which households are allowed to lend and borrow, subject to a borrowing constraint. We show that, in this framework, forward guidance, that is the promise by the central bank to lower future interest rates, can be a powerful policy tool, especially when the economy is in a liquidity trap. In our model, the power of forward guidance is amplified by three redistributive channels, absent in a representative agent new- Keynesian model (RANK) or in a HANK model without private debt. First, expected lower rates imply ...