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Cross-sectional patterns of mortgage debt during the housing boom: evidence and implications

Listed author(s):
  • Foote, Christopher L.

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

  • Loewenstein, Lara

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

  • Willen, Paul S.

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)

The reallocation of mortgage debt to low-income or marginally qualified borrowers plays a central role in many explanations of the early 2000s housing boom. We show that such a reallocation never occurred, as the distribution of mortgage debt with respect to income changed little even as the aggregate stock of debt grew rapidly. Moreover, because mortgage debt varies positively with income in the cross section, equal percentage increases in debt among high- and low-income borrowers meant that wealthy borrowers accounted for most new debt in dollar terms. Previous research stressing the importance of low-income borrowing was based on the inflow of new mortgage originations alone, so it could not detect offsetting outflows in mortgage terminations that left the allocation of debt stable over time. And while defaults on subprime mortgages played an important part in the financial crisis, the data show that subprime lending did not cause a reallocation of debt toward the poor. Rather, subprime lending prevented a reallocation of debt toward the wealthy.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 16-12.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: 17 Nov 2016
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:16-12
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  1. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 2016. "Understanding Booms and Busts in Housing Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1088-1147.
  2. Bhutta, Neil, 2015. "The ins and outs of mortgage debt during the housing boom and bust," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 284-298.
  3. 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.
  4. Brown, Meta & Haughwout, Andrew F. & Lee, Donghoon & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2015. "Do we know what we owe? Consumer debt as reported by borrowers and lenders," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue 21-1, pages 19-44.
  5. Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Alexander Michaelides & Kalin Nikolov, 2011. "Winners and Losers in Housing Markets," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 43, pages 255-296, March.
  6. Stefania Albanesi, 2016. "Credit Growth and the Financial Crisis: A New Narrative," 2016 Meeting Papers 575, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Gerardi Kristopher & Willen Paul, 2009. "Subprime Mortgages, Foreclosures, and Urban Neighborhoods," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(3), pages 1-37, March.
  8. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2009. "The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1449-1496.
  9. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  10. Neil Bhutta & Benjamin J. Keys, 2016. "Interest Rates and Equity Extraction during the Housing Boom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(7), pages 1742-1774, July.
  11. Patrick Bayer & Kyle Mangum & James W. Roberts, 2016. "Speculative Fever: Investor Contagion in the Housing Bubble," NBER Working Papers 22065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. James Poterba & Todd Sinai, 2008. "Tax Expenditures for Owner-Occupied Housing: Deductions for Property Taxes and Mortgage Interest and the Exclusion of Imputed Rental Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 84-89, May.
  13. Albanesi, Stefania & De Giorgi, Giacomo & Nosal, Jaromir, 2017. "Credit Growth and the Financial Crisis: A New Narrative," CEPR Discussion Papers 12230, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Munnell, Alicia H. & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell & Lynn E. Browne & James McEneaney, 1996. "Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting HMDA Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 25-53, March.
  15. Neil Bhutta, 2015. "The Ins and Outs of Mortgage Debt : An Update," FEDS Notes 2015-12-07, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  16. Kau James B. & Keenan Donald C. & Kim Taewon, 1994. "Default Probabilities for Mortgages," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 278-296, May.
  17. Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2016. "Editor's Choice Wealth Inequality in the United States since 1913: Evidence from Capitalized Income Tax Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(2), pages 519-578.
  18. Gene Amromin & Leslie McGranahan, 2015. "The Great Recession and Credit Trends across Income Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 147-153, May.
  19. Alp Simsek, 2013. "Belief Disagreements and Collateral Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(1), pages 1-53, January.
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