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Mortgage choice and the pricing of fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages


  • John Krainer


In the United States throughout 2009, the share of adjustable-rate mortgages among total mortgage originations was very low, apparently reflecting the attractive pricing of fixed-rate mortgages relative to ARMs. Government policy could have changed the relative attractiveness of the fixed-rate mortgages and ARMs, thereby shifting the market share of these two housing finance instruments. ; This Economic Letter reviews some of the factors determining consumer mortgage choices. It shows that ARM share has declined in ways that parallel the behavior of several key mortgage market interest rates. These developments have coincided with, among other things, Fed intervention in the market through large-scale MBS purchases. Thus, the Fed program, while supporting the functioning of the residential mortgage market overall, could have affected the composition of the mortgage market. To help understand this dynamic, this Letter estimates what the ARM share might have been under alternative scenarios in which fixed mortgage rates were higher, which would likely have been the case if the Fed had not been intervening in the market to the extent that it did.

Suggested Citation

  • John Krainer, 2010. "Mortgage choice and the pricing of fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue feb1.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfel:y:2010:i:feb1:n:2010-03

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bullard, James B., 2013. "Seven Faces of "The Peril"," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 613-628.
    2. repec:fip:fedgsq:y:2002:i:nov21 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1984. "The Lucas Critique and the Volcker Deflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 211-215, May.
    4. Ben S. Bernanke, 2002. "Deflation: making sure "it" doesn't happen here," Speech 530, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Cited by:

    1. Heike Joebges & Sebastian Dullien & Alejandro Márquez-Velázquez, 2015. "What causes housing bubbles?," IMK Studies 43-2015, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    2. Contessi, Silvio & De Pace, Pierangelo & Guidolin, Massimo, 2014. "How did the financial crisis alter the correlations of U.S. yield spreads?," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 362-385.
    3. repec:ksa:szemle:1724 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Tatiana Cesaroni, 2018. "Average time to sell a property and credit conditions: evidence from the Italian Housing Market Survey," Working Papers LuissLab 18136, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, LUISS Guido Carli.
    5. Heike Joebges & Sebastian Dullien & Alejandro Márquez-Velázquez, 2015. "What causes housing bubbles? A theoretical and empirical inquiry," Competence Centre on Money, Trade, Finance and Development 1501, Hochschule fuer Technik und Wirtschaft, Berlin.
    6. Hancock, Diana & Passmore, Wayne, 2016. "Cost of funds indexed mortgage contracts with government-backed catastrophic insurance (COFI-Cats): A realistic alternative to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage?," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 109-130.

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    Mortgage loans ; Mortgages;


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