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Why Did So Many People Make So Many Ex Post Bad Decisions? The Causes of the Foreclosure Crisis

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  • Christopher L. Foote
  • Kristopher S. Gerardi
  • Paul S. Willen

Abstract

We present 12 facts about the mortgage crisis. We argue that the facts refute the popular story that the crisis resulted from finance industry insiders deceiving uninformed mortgage borrowers and investors. Instead, we argue that borrowers and investors made decisions that were rational and logical given their ex post overly optimistic beliefs about house prices. We then show that neither institutional features of the mortgage market nor financial innovations are any more likely to explain those distorted beliefs than they are to explain the Dutch tulip bubble 400 years ago. Economists should acknowledge the limits of our understanding of asset price bubbles and design policies accordingly.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18082.

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Date of creation: May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18082

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  1. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Andreas Lehnert & Shane M. Sherlund & Paul S. Willen, 2009. "Making sense of the subprime crisis," Public Policy Discussion Paper 09-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  2. Ing-Haw Cheng & Sahil Raina & Wei Xiong, 2013. "Wall Street and the Housing Bubble," NBER Working Papers 18904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John P. Herzog & James S. Earley, 1970. "Home Mortgage Delinquency and Foreclosure," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number herz70-1, May.
  4. Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2010. "What Comes to Mind," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1399-1433, November.
  5. 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.
  6. Manuel Adelino & Kristopher Gerardi & Paul S. Willen, 2009. "Why don't lenders renegotiate more home mortgages? redefaults, self-cures, and securitization," Working Paper 2009-17, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  7. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Christopher L. Foote & Paul S. Willen, 2010. "Reasonable people did disagree : optimism and pessimism about the U.S. housing market before the crash," Public Policy Discussion Paper 10-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  8. Saul B. Klaman, 1959. "The Postwar Rise of Mortgage Companies," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number klam59-1, May.
  9. Foote, Christopher L. & Gerardi, Kristopher & Goette, Lorenz & Willen, Paul S., 2008. "Just the facts: An initial analysis of subprime's role in the housing crisis," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 291-305, December.
  10. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Harvey S. Rosen & Paul S. Willen, 2010. "The Impact of Deregulation and Financial Innovation on Consumers: The Case of the Mortgage Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(1), pages 333-360, 02.
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  14. Pengfei Wang & Jianjun Miao, 2011. "Bubbles and Credit Constraints," 2011 Meeting Papers 94, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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  16. Jane Dokko & Brian Doyle & Michael T. Kiley & Jinill Kim & Shane Sherlund & Jae Sim & Skander Van den Heuvel, 2009. "Monetary policy and the housing bubble," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-49, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  17. Elul, Ronel, 1997. "Financial innovation, precautionary saving and the risk-free rate," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 113-131, February.
  18. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb & Joseph Gyourko, 2012. "Can Cheap Credit Explain the Housing Boom?," NBER Chapters, in: Housing and the Financial Crisis, pages 301-359 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496, November.
  20. Rubén Hernández-Murillo & Andra C. Ghent & Michael T. Owyang, 2012. "Did affordable housing legislation contribute to the subprime securities boom?," Working Papers 2012-005, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  21. Andreas Fuster & David Laibson & Brock Mendel, 2010. "Natural Expectations and Macroeconomic Fluctuations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 67-84, Fall.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Foreclosure crisis: it is not about irrationality and sneaky bankers
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2012-05-29 14:48:00
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Cited by:
  1. di Iasio, Giovanni & Quagliariello, Mario, 2011. "Incentives through the cycle: microfounded macroprudential regulation," MPRA Paper 28179, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Holden, Steinar, 2012. "Implications of Insights from Behavioral Economics for Macroeconomic Models," Memorandum 25/2012, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  3. Andreas Fuster & Paul S. Willen, 2012. "Payment size, negative equity, and mortgage default," Public Policy Discussion Paper 12-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  4. Anat Bracha & Elke U. Weber, 2012. "A psychological perspective of financial panic," Public Policy Discussion Paper 12-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

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