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Regulating Household Leverage

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  • Anthony A Defusco
  • Stephanie Johnson
  • John Mondragon

Abstract

This article studies how credit markets respond to policy constraints on household leverage. Exploiting a sharp policy-induced discontinuity in the cost of originating certain high-leverage mortgages, we study how the Dodd–Frank “Ability-to-Repay†rule affected the price and availability of credit in the U.S. mortgage market. Our estimates show that the policy had only moderate effects on prices, increasing interest rates on affected loans by 10–15 basis points. The effect on quantities, however, was significantly larger; we estimate that the policy eliminated 15% of the affected market completely and reduced leverage for another 20% of remaining borrowers. This reduction in quantities is much greater than would be implied by plausible demand elasticities and indicates that lenders responded to the policy not only by raising prices but also by exiting the regulated portion of the market. Heterogeneity in the quantity response across lenders suggests that agency costs may have been one particularly important market friction contributing to the large overall effect as the fall in lending was substantially larger among lenders relying on third-parties to originate loans. Finally, while the policy succeeded in reducing leverage, our estimates suggest this effect would have only slightly reduced aggregate default rates during the housing crisis.

Suggested Citation

  • Anthony A Defusco & Stephanie Johnson & John Mondragon, 2020. "Regulating Household Leverage," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(2), pages 914-958.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:87:y:2020:i:2:p:914-958.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdz040
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bailey, Michael & D�vila, Eduardo & Kuchler, Theresa & Str�bel, Johannes, 2017. "House Price Beliefs And Mortgage Leverage Choice," CEPR Discussion Papers 12476, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Marsha J. Courchane & Stephen L. Ross, 2019. "Evidence and Actions on Mortgage Market Disparities: Research, Fair Lending Enforcement, and Consumer Protection," Housing Policy Debate, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(5), pages 769-794, September.
    3. Sarena Goodman & Adam Isen & Constantine Yannelis, 2018. "A Day Late and a Dollar Short : Liquidity and Household Formation among Student Borrowers," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2018-025, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    4. Andreas Fuster & Matthew Plosser & Philipp Schnabl & James Vickery, 2019. "The Role of Technology in Mortgage Lending," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 32(5), pages 1854-1899.
    5. repec:bin:bpeajo:v:49:y:2019:i:2018-01:p:429-513 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Neil Bhutta & Daniel R. Ringo, 2017. "The Effect of Interest Rates on Home Buying : Evidence from a Discontinuity in Mortgage Insurance Premiums," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-086, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. Michael Bailey & Eduardo Dávila & Theresa Kuchler & Johannes Stroebel, 2017. "House Price Beliefs And Mortgage Leverage Choice," NBER Working Papers 24091, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Andreas Fuster & Matthew Plosser & James Vickery, 2018. "Does CFPB oversight crimp credit?," Staff Reports 857, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    9. Benetton, Matteo & Bracke, Philippe & Cocco, João F & Garbarino, Nicola, 2019. "Housing consumption and investment:evidence from shared equity mortgages," Bank of England working papers 790, Bank of England.
    10. Cristian Badarinza, 2019. "Mortgage Debt and Social Externalities," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 34, pages 43-60, October.
    11. Sedunov, John, 2020. "Small banks and consumer satisfaction," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    12. Mark Garmaise & Yaron Levi & Hanno Lustig, 2020. "Spending Less After (Seemingly) Bad News," NBER Working Papers 27010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Lu Han & Chandler Lutz & Benjamin Sand & Derek Stacey, 2018. "Do Financial Constraints Cool a Housing Boom?," Working Papers 073, Ryerson University, Department of Economics.
    14. Jason Allen & Daniel Greenwald, 2018. "Managing a Housing Boom," 2018 Meeting Papers 1310, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Household leverage; Financial regulation; Macroprudential policy; Mortgage markets;

    JEL classification:

    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • R30 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - General

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