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Mortgage Modification and Strategic Behavior: Evidence from a Legal Settlement with Countrywide

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  • Christopher Mayer
  • Edward Morrison
  • Tomasz Piskorski
  • Arpit Gupta

Abstract

We investigate whether homeowners respond strategically to news of mortgage modification programs. We exploit plausibly exogenous variation in modification policy induced by settlement of U.S. state government lawsuits against Countrywide Financial Corporation, which agreed to offer modifications to seriously delinquent borrowers. Using a difference-in-difference framework, we find that Countrywide's monthly delinquency rate increased more than 0.54 percentage points—a ten percent relative increase—immediately after the settlement's announcement. The estimated increase in default rates is largest among borrowers least likely to default otherwise. These results suggest that strategic behavior should be an important consideration in designing mortgage modification programs. (JEL D10, G21, G33, K00)

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Mayer & Edward Morrison & Tomasz Piskorski & Arpit Gupta, 2014. "Mortgage Modification and Strategic Behavior: Evidence from a Legal Settlement with Countrywide," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2830-2857, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:9:p:2830-57
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.9.2830
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Agarwal, Sumit & Amromin, Gene & Ben-David, Itzhak & Chomsisengphet, Souphala & Evanoff, Douglas D., 2011. "The role of securitization in mortgage renegotiation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(3), pages 559-578.
    3. Ethan Cohen-Cole & Jonathan Morse, 2009. "Your house or your credit card, which would you choose?: personal delinquency tradeoffs and precautionary liquidity motives," Supervisory Research and Analysis Working Papers QAU09-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, revised 2009.
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    6. 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.
    7. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362.
    8. Ronel Elul & Nicholas S. Souleles & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Dennis Glennon & Robert Hunt, 2010. "What "Triggers" Mortgage Default?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 490-494, May.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets

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