Mortgage debt and household deleveraging: accounting for the decline in mortgage debt using consumer credit record data
AbstractOne of the major reasons hypothesized for the tepid economic recovery thus far is the ongoing "deleveraging" process. From 2009:Q3 to 2011:Q3, aggregate household debt declined by about $1.5 trillion in real terms, with mortgage debt falling by about $1 trillion. Other than defaults, the factors driving the decline in aggregate debt are not precisely understood, in large part because the necessary data are not widely available. This paper draws on panel data consisting of individual credit records to better understand why mortgage debt has declined. I decompose changes in aggregate mortgage debt over two-year periods spanning the past decade into inflows (from individuals whose mortgage debt increases during a given two-year period) and outflows (from those who reduce or eliminate their mortgage debt over a period). The principal finding is that the drop in outstanding mortgage debt has more to do with shrinking inflows than with expanding outflows, including defaults. Even if outflows had not grown at all, mortgage debt would have declined over the past two years because inflows have been so weak. One factor dampening inflows is historically weak first-time homebuying, especially among those with less-than-excellent credit scores, suggesting tight credit supply has limited debt accumulation even among those who have little debt. On the outflows side, most of the expansion can be traced to financially distressed borrowers and mortgage defaults, with real estate investors playing a disproportionate role. Otherwise, there has not been much of an increase in outflows, implying that borrowers generally are not paying down their balances more aggressively than in the past.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2012-14.
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Foote, Christopher L. & Gerardi, Kristopher & Willen, Paul S., 2008.
"Negative equity and foreclosure: Theory and evidence,"
Journal of Urban Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 234-245, September.
- Christopher L. Foote & Kristopher Gerardi & Paul S. Willen, 2008. "Negative equity and foreclosure: theory and evidence," Public Policy Discussion Paper 08-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
- Andrew Haughwout & Donghoon Lee & Joseph Tracy & Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2011. "Real estate investors, the leverage cycle, and the housing market crisis," Staff Reports 514, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
- Donghoon Lee & Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2010. "An introduction to the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel," Staff Reports 479, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Diane Rosenberger).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.