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Where's the smoking gun? a study of underwriting standards for US subprime mortgages

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  • Geetesh Bhardwaj
  • Rajdeep Sengupta

Abstract

The dominant explanation for the meltdown in the US subprime mortgage market is that lending standards dramatically weakened after 2004. Using loan-level data, we examine underwriting standards on the subprime mortgage originations from 1998 to 2007. Contrary to popular belief, we find no evidence of a dramatic weakening of lending standards within the subprime market. We show that while underwriting may have weakened along some dimensions, it certainly strengthened along others. Our results indicate that (average) observable risk characteristics on mortgages underwritten post-2004 would have resulted in a significantly lower ex post default if they were to be given a loan in 2001 or 2002. We show that while it is possible that underwriting standards in this market were poor to begin with, deterioration in underwriting post-2004 cannot be the explanation for collapse of subprime mortgage market.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2008-036.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2008-036

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Keywords: Subprime mortgage;

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References

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  1. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanié & François Salanié, 2002. "Asymmetric Information in Insurance : General Testable Implications," Working Papers 2002-42, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  2. Joao Cocco & John Campbell, 2004. "Household Risk Management and Optimal Mortgage Choice," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 646, Econometric Society.
  3. Jeremy C. Stein, 1993. "Prices and Trading Volume in the Housing Market: A Model with Downpayment Effects," NBER Working Papers 4373, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rajdeep Sengupta, 2006. "Foreign entry and bank competition," Working Papers 2006-043, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  5. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "This Time is Different: A Panoramic View of Eight Centuries of Financial Crises," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(2), pages 1065-1188, November.
  6. Wayne R. Archer & Peter J. Elmer & David M. Harrison & David C. Ling, 2002. "Determinants of Multifamily Mortgage Default," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 30(3), pages 445-473.
  7. Ciochetti, Brian A, et al, 2003. "A Proportional Hazards Model of Commercial Mortgage Default with Originator Bias," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 5-23, July.
  8. Brueckner, Jan K, 2000. "Mortgage Default with Asymmetric Information," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 251-74, May.
  9. Geetesh Bhardwaj & Rajdeep Sengupta, 2008. "Did prepayments sustain the subprime market?," Working Papers 2008-039, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  10. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2008. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the 2007 Mortgage Default Crisis," NBER Working Papers 13936, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Salanié, 1997. "Testing for Asymmetric Information in Insurance Markets," Working Papers 97-11, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  12. Jun Chen & Yongheng Deng, 2013. "Commercial Mortgage Workout Strategy and Conditional Default Probability: Evidence from Special Serviced CMBS Loans," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 609-632, May.
  13. Ambrose, Brent W & Sanders, Anthony B, 2003. "Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities: Prepayment and Default," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 179-96, March-May.
  14. Brian A. Ciochetti & Yongheng Deng & Bin Gao & Rui Yao, 2002. "The Termination of Commercial Mortgage Contracts through Prepayment and Default: A Proportional Hazard Approach with Competing Risks," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 30(4), pages 595-633.
  15. Chris Mayer & Karen Pence, 2008. "Subprime mortgages: what, where, and to whom?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Yuliya Demyanyk & Otto Van Hemert, 2007. "Understanding the subprime mortgage crisis," Supervisory Policy Analysis Working Papers 2007-05, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  17. Christopher J. Mayer & Karen Pence, 2008. "Subprime Mortgages: What, Where, and to Whom?," NBER Working Papers 14083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Souphala Chomsisengphet & Anthony Pennington-Cross, 2006. "The evolution of the subprime mortgage market," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 31-56.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Khandani, Amir E. & Lo, Andrew W. & Merton, Robert C., 2013. "Systemic risk and the refinancing ratchet effect," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 29-45.
  2. Gary B. Gorton, 2008. "The Panic of 2007," NBER Working Papers 14358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jeremy M. Burke & Curtis R. Taylor & Liad Wagman, 2012. "Information Acquisition in Competitive Markets: An Application to the US Mortgage Market," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 65-106, November.
  4. Bhardwaj, G. & Sengupta, R., 2009. "Did Prepayments Sustain the Subprime Market?," Discussion Paper 2009-38 S, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  5. Davide Furceri & Annabelle Mourougane, 2009. "Financial Crises: Past Lessons and Policy Implications," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 668, OECD Publishing.
  6. Ashcraft, A. & Goldsmith-Pinkham, P. & Vickery, J., 2010. "MBS Ratings and the Mortgage Credit Boom," Discussion Paper 2010-89S, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  7. Capozza, Dennis R. & Order, Robert Van, 2011. "The great surge in mortgage defaults 2006-2009: The comparative roles of economic conditions, underwriting and moral hazard," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 141-151, June.
  8. James B. Bullard & Christopher J. Neely & David C. Wheelock, 2009. "Systemic risk and the financial crisis: a primer," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Sep, pages 403-418.
  9. Allen B Frankel, 2009. "The risk of relying on reputational capital: a case study of the 2007 failure of New Century Financial," BIS Working Papers 294, Bank for International Settlements.
  10. Richard J. Rosen, 2011. "Competition in mortgage markets: the effect of lender type on loan characteristics," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 2-21.
  11. Geetesh Bhardwaj & Rajdeep Sengupta, 2008. "Did prepayments sustain the subprime market?," Working Papers 2008-039, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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