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Does the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) cause banks to provide a subsidy to some mortgage borrowers?

  • Glenn B. Canner
  • Elizabeth Laderman
  • Andreas Lehnert
  • Wayne Passmore

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) encourages lenders to make mortgage loans to certain classes of borrowers. However, the law does not apply to all lenders, and lenders do not necessarily receive credit for all loans made to borrowers of a particular class. We use this variation to test whether or not CRA-affected lenders cut interest rates to CRA-eligible borrowers; in other words, we test for the presence of a regulation-driven subsidy. Our theory suggests that loans made by commercial banks and savings associations (``relationship lenders'') and mortgage companies (``transaction lenders'') will differ from one another depending on borrower risk and homeownership benefits. Empirically, we find that CRA-eligible loans at CRA-affected institutions do carry lower mortgage spreads compared with other loans at the same institution. However, once we control for risk and benefit effects suggested by our theory, these differences in mortgage spreads become economically and statistically insignificant.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2002-19.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2002-19
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  1. Robert B. Avery & Raphael W. Bostic & Glenn B. Canner, 2000. "CRA special lending programs," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Nov, pages 711-731.
  2. Boot, Arnoud W A & Thakor, Anjan, 1995. "Financial System Architecture," CEPR Discussion Papers 1197, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1998. "Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Working papers 98-13, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Steven D. Levitt, 1998. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1156-1185, December.
  5. Douglas D. Evanoff & Lewis M. Segal, 1996. "CRA and fair lending regulations: resulting trends in mortgage lending," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Nov, pages 19-46.
  6. Harvey, Keith D, et al, 2001. "Disparities in Mortgage Lending, Bank Performance, Economic Influence, and Regulatory Oversight," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 379-410, November.
  7. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-90, June.
  8. Douglas D. Evanoff & Lewis M. Segal, 1996. "Strategic responses to bank regulation: evidence from HMDA data," Working Paper Series, Issues in Financial Regulation WP-96-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Boot, Arnoud W A & Thakor, Anjan, 1997. "Can Relationship Banking Survive Competition?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1592, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Mark Carey & Mitch Post & Steven A. Sharpe, 1996. "Does corporate lending by banks and finance companies differ? Evidence on specialization in private debt contracting," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-25, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Henderson, J Vernon & Ioannides, Yannis M, 1983. "A Model of Housing Tenure Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 98-113, March.
  12. Larry Meeker & Forest Myers, 1996. "Community Reinvestment Act lending : is it profitable?," Financial Industry Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Dec, pages 13-35.
  13. Griffith L. Garwood & Dolores S. Smith, 1993. "The Community Reinvestment Act: evolution and current issues," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Apr, pages 251-267.
  14. Glenn B. Canner & Wayne Passmore & Brian J. Surette, 1996. "Distribution of credit risk among providers of mortgages to lower- income and minority homebuyers," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Dec, pages 1077-1102.
  15. Glenn B. Canner & Wayne Passmore, 1995. "Credit risk and the provision of mortgages to lower-income and minority homebuyers," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Nov, pages 989-1016.
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