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The financial crisis: imperfect markets and imperfect regulation

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  • Richard J. Buttimer

Abstract

Purpose – This paper seeks to examine the role that regulation and regulatory agencies played in the creating of the subprime mortgage market, and the subsequent crash of the mortgage market. The paper has two goals. First, it seeks to document the degree to which the US housing markets, and the US housing finance market, were regulated prior to the crash. Second, it seeks to show that regulatory bodies set policies which created both incentives and explicit requirements for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as depository institutions, to enter the subprime market. Design/methodology/approach – The paper examines the regulatory environment of the subprime market. It uses regulatory filings and other documents as primary sources. Findings – The popular perception that the subprime mortgage market arose because housing finance was largely unregulated is incorrect. In point of fact, the housing finance market was very heavily regulated. Indeed, the paper shows that the creation of the subprime market was a formal goal of the federal government, and that federal regulatory agencies explicitly required participation by the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs). Originality/value – The paper's primary implication is that incentive conflicts within the US housing finance system significantly contributed to the mortgage crisis. These incentive conflicts were not just within private firms, but also extend to the GSEs and regulatory agencies. Regulatory agencies not only failed to anticipate the crisis; they actively encouraged the policies which created it. As a result, the primary focus of reform efforts should be on identifying and eliminating such conflicts.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Journal of Financial Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 12-32

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Handle: RePEc:eme:jfeppp:v:3:y:2011:i:1:p:12-32

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Related research

Keywords: Financial management; Mortgage companies; Mortgage default; Residential housing; United States of America;

References

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  1. Giang Ho & Anthony Pennington-Cross, 2007. "The varying effects of predatory lending laws on high-cost mortgage applications," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 39-60.
  2. Brent W. Ambrose & Richard J. Buttimer Jr., 1998. "Embedded Options in the Mortgage Contract," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers 305, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
  3. Ashcraft, Adam B. & Schuermann, Til, 2008. "Understanding the Securitization of Subprime Mortgage Credit," Foundations and Trends(R) in Finance, now publishers, vol. 2(3), pages 191-309, June.
  4. John M. Quigley, 2006. "Federal credit and insurance programs: housing," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 281-310.
  5. Robert C. Merton, 1973. "Theory of Rational Option Pricing," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 4(1), pages 141-183, Spring.
  6. Richard Roll, 2003. "Benefits to Homeowners from Mortgage Portfolios Retained by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 29-42, February.
  7. Luci Ellis, 2010. "The Housing Meltdown: Why Did It Happen in the United States?," International Real Estate Review, Asian Real Estate Society, vol. 13(3), pages 351-394.
  8. Ambrose, Brent W & Buttimer, Richard J, Jr & Capone, Charles A, 1997. "Pricing Mortgage Default and Foreclosure Delay," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(3), pages 314-25, August.
  9. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-54, May-June.
  10. Buttimer, Richard Jr. & Lin, Che-Chun, 2005. "Valuing US and Canadian mortgage servicing rights with default and prepayment," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 194-211, September.
  11. Bucks, Brian & Pence, Karen, 2008. "Do borrowers know their mortgage terms?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 218-233, September.
  12. James F. Epperson & James B. Kau & Donald C. Keenan & Walter J. Muller, 1985. "Pricing Default Risk in Mortgages," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 13(3), pages 261-272.
  13. Glenn B. Canner & Elizabeth Laderman & Andreas Lehnert & Wayne Passmore, 2002. "Does the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) cause banks to provide a subsidy to some mortgage borrowers?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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