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How Resilient Is Mortgage Credit Supply? Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic



We study the evolution of US mortgage credit supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the mortgage market experienced a historic boom in 2020, we show there was also a large and sustained increase in intermediation markups that limited the pass-through of low rates to borrowers. Markups typically rise during periods of peak demand, but this historical relationship explains only part of the large increase during the pandemic. We present evidence that pandemic-related labor market frictions and operational bottlenecks contributed to unusually inelastic credit supply, and that technology-based lenders, likely less constrained by these frictions, gained market share. Rising forbearance and default risk did not significantly affect rates on "plain-vanilla" conforming mortgages, but it did lead to higher spreads on mortgages without government guarantees and loans to the riskiest borrowers. Mortgage-backed securities purchases by the Federal Reserve also supported the flow of credit in the conforming segment.

Suggested Citation

  • Andreas Fuster & Aurel Hizmo & Lauren Lambie-Hanson & James Vickery & Paul S. Willen, 2021. "How Resilient Is Mortgage Credit Supply? Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2021-048, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2021-48
    DOI: 10.17016/FEDS.2021.048

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Davidson, Andrew & Levin, Alexander, 2014. "Mortgage Valuation Models: Embedded Options, Risk, and Uncertainty," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199998166.
    2. Marco Di Maggio & Amir Kermani & Christopher J Palmer, 2020. "How Quantitative Easing Works: Evidence on the Refinancing Channel," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 1498-1528.
    3. Isil Erel & Jack Liebersohn, 2020. "Does FinTech Substitute for Banks? Evidence from the Paycheck Protection Program," NBER Working Papers 27659, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Anthony A Defusco & Stephanie Johnson & John Mondragon, 2020. "Regulating Household Leverage," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(2), pages 914-958.
    5. Fabozzi, Frank J. (ed.), 2016. "The Handbook of Mortgage-Backed Securities, 7th Edition," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 7, number 9780198785774.
    6. Erica Jiang & Gregor Matvos & Tomasz Piskorski & Amit Seru, 2020. "Banking without Deposits: Evidence from Shadow Bank Call Reports," NBER Working Papers 26903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Erel, Isil & Liebersohn, Jack, 2020. "Does FinTech Substitute for Banks? Evidence from the Paycheck Protection Program," Working Paper Series 2020-16, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
    8. Marco Di Maggio & Amir Kermani & Benjamin J. Keys & Tomasz Piskorski & Rodney Ramcharan & Amit Seru & Vincent Yao, 2017. "Interest Rate Pass-Through: Mortgage Rates, Household Consumption, and Voluntary Deleveraging," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(11), pages 3550-3588, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Lauren Lambie-Hanson & Paul S. Willen, 2021. "Racial Differences in Mortgage Refinancing, Distress, and Housing Wealth Accumulation during COVID-19," Current Policy Perspectives 92793, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    2. Lara Loewenstein, 2021. "Why Wasn’t there a Nonbank Mortgage Servicer Liquidity Crisis?," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, vol. 2021(15), pages 1-7, July.

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    More about this item


    Mortgage; Credit; Financial intermediation; Fintech; COVID-19;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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