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Did affordable housing mandates cause the subprime mortgage crisis?

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  • Moulton, Shawn

Abstract

The 1992 Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act (GSE Act) mandated that a specified percentage of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchases come from underserved populations. A number of prominent observers have pointed to the GSE Act as a root cause of the recent housing crisis. This paper evaluates the link between the GSE Act and relaxed mortgage market standards. Using loan application-level data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, I analyze whether the GSE Act’s single-family affordable housing goals altered mortgage lending or purchasing decisions. To identify this effect, I use a regression discontinuity design that exploits arbitrary cutoffs used to determine whether a loan satisfies the GSE Act goals. I find that the GSE Act’s single-family affordable housing goals increased GSE purchases from very low-income borrowers by 4.4% but had no effect on mortgage lending. These results stand up to a number of specification and robustness checks.

Suggested Citation

  • Moulton, Shawn, 2014. "Did affordable housing mandates cause the subprime mortgage crisis?," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 21-38.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhouse:v:24:y:2014:i:c:p:21-38
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhe.2013.11.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko, 2015. "A New Look at the U.S. Foreclosure Crisis: Panel Data Evidence of Prime and Subprime Borrowers from 1997 to 2012," NBER Working Papers 21261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Andra C. Ghent & Rubén Hernández-Murillo & Michael T. Owyang, 2015. "Did Affordable Housing Legislation Contribute to the Subprime Securities Boom?," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 43(4), pages 820-854, November.
    3. Bostic, Raphael & Ellen, Ingrid Gould, 2014. "Introduction: Special issue on housing policy in the United States," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 1-3.
    4. Zhao, Yunhui, 2016. "Got Hurt for What You Paid? Revisiting Government Subsidy in the U.S. Mortgage Market," MPRA Paper 81083, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Aug 2017.
    5. Olsen, Edgar O. & Zabel, Jeffrey E., 2015. "US Housing Policy," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Government sponsored enterprises; Affordable housing goals; Homeownership;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets
    • R38 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Government Policy

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