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Are adjustable-rate mortgage borrowers borrowing constrained?


  • Kathleen W. Johnson
  • Geng Li


Past research argues that changes in adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) payments may lead households to cut back on consumption or to default on their mortgages. In this paper, we argue that these outcomes are more likely if ARM borrowers are borrowing constrained, and find that ARM borrowers exhibit characteristics and behavior that are consistent with being borrowing constrained. Although the demographic and financial characteristics of ARM and fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) borrowers are quite similar, ARM borrowers differ from FRM borrowers in their uses of credit and attitudes towards it. In addition, we find the consumption growth of households with an ARM is more sensitive to past income than the consumption growth of other households, suggesting the ARM borrowers are more likely subject to borrowing constraints that hinder their ability to smooth consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Kathleen W. Johnson & Geng Li, 2011. "Are adjustable-rate mortgage borrowers borrowing constrained?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2011-21, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2011-21

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tullio Jappelli & Jörn-Steffen Pischke & Nicholas S. Souleles, 1998. "Testing For Liquidity Constraints In Euler Equations With Complementary Data Sources," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(2), pages 251-262, May.
    2. Brent W. Ambrose & Michael LaCour-Little & Zsuzsa R. Huszar, 2005. "A Note on Hybrid Mortgages," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 33(4), pages 765-782, December.
    3. Brent W. Ambrose & Michael LaCour-Little, 2001. "Prepayment Risk in Adjustable Rate Mortgages Subject to Initial Year Discounts: Some New Evidence," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 29(2), pages 305-327.
    4. Brahima Coulibaly & Geng Li, 2009. "Choice of Mortgage Contracts: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 37(4), pages 659-673.
    5. Posey, Lisa L. & Yavas, Abdullah, 2001. "Adjustable and Fixed Rate Mortgages as a Screening Mechanism for Default Risk," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 54-79, January.
    6. Kathleen W. Johnson & Geng Li, 2010. "The Debt-Payment-to-Income Ratio as an Indicator of Borrowing Constraints: Evidence from Two Household Surveys," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(7), pages 1373-1390, October.
    7. Tullio Jappelli, 1990. "Who is Credit Constrained in the U. S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-234.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spt:apfiba:v:8:y:2018:i:3:f:8_3_4 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. John Y. Campbell & Tarun Ramadorai & Benjamin Ranish, 2012. "How Do Regulators Influence Mortgage Risk: Evidence from an Emerging Market," NBER Working Papers 18394, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Martin Brown & Benjamin Suman Guin, 2015. "The Exposure of Mortgage Borrowers to Interest Rate Risk and House Price Risk – Evidence from Swiss Loan Application Data," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 151(II), pages 3-37, June.
    4. Elul, Ronel & Tilson, Sebastian, 2015. "Owner occupancy fraud and mortgage performance," Working Papers 15-45, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    5. Dietsch, Michel & Petey, Joël, 2015. "The credit-risk implications of home ownership promotion: The effects of public subsidies and adjustable-rate loans," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 103-120.
    6. repec:hrv:faseco:34331451 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Brown, Martin & Guin, Benjamin, 2015. "The Exposure of Mortgage Borrowers to Interest Rate Risk, Income Risk and House Price Risk – Evidence from Swiss Loan Application Data," Working Papers on Finance 1509, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.

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    Adjustable rate mortgages ; Mortgage loans ; Consumer credit ; Consumer behavior;

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