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Systemic risk and the refinancing ratchet effect

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  • Khandani, Amir E.
  • Lo, Andrew W.
  • Merton, Robert C.

Abstract

The combination of rising home prices, declining interest rates, and near-frictionless refinancing opportunities can create unintentional synchronization of homeowner leverage, leading to a “ratchet” effect on leverage because homes are indivisible and owner-occupants cannot raise equity to reduce leverage when home prices fall. Our simulation of the U.S. housing market yields potential losses of $1.7 trillion from June 2006 to December 2008 with cash-out refinancing vs. only $330 billion in the absence of cash-out refinancing. The refinancing ratchet effect is a new type of systemic risk in the financial system and does not rely on any dysfunctional behaviors.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:108:y:2013:i:1:p:29-45
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2012.10.007
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    Cited by:

    1. John Y. Campbell & Howell E. Jackson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Peter Tufano, 2011. "Consumer Financial Protection," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 91-114, Winter.
    2. Buiter, Willem H., 2010. "Housing wealth isn't wealth," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 4, pages 1-29.
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    4. Fischer, Thomas & Riedler, Jesper, 2014. "Prices, debt and market structure in an agent-based model of the financial market," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 95-120.
    5. Huang, MeiChi, 2014. "Bubble-like housing boom–bust cycles: Evidence from the predictive power of households’ expectations," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 2-16.
    6. in ’t Veld, Daan & van Lelyveld, Iman, 2014. "Finding the core: Network structure in interbank markets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 27-40.
    7. Diego Escobari & Damian Damianov & Andres Bello, 2015. "A time series test to identify housing bubbles," Journal of Economics and Finance, Springer;Academy of Economics and Finance, vol. 39(1), pages 136-152, January.
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    13. repec:eee:jhouse:v:38:y:2017:i:c:p:25-37 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Ebner, André, 2013. "A micro view on home equity withdrawal and its determinants: Evidence from Dutch households," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 321-337.
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    Keywords

    Systemic risk; Financial crisis; Household finance; Real estate; Subprime mortgage;

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • E17 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • R28 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Government Policy

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