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Did prepayments sustain the subprime market?

  • Geetesh Bhardwaj
  • Rajdeep Sengupta

This paper demonstrates that the reason for widespread default of mortgages in the subprime market was a sudden reversal in the house price appreciation of the early 2000's. Using loan-level data on subprime mortgages, we observe that the majority of subprime loans were hybrid adjustable rate mortgages, designed to impose substantial financial burden on reset to the fully indexed rate. In a regime of rising house prices, a financially distressed borrower could avoid default by prepaying the loan and our results indicate that subprime mortgages originated between 1998 and 2005 had extremely high prepayment rates. However, a sudden reversal in house price appreciation increased default in this market because it made this prepayment exit option cost-prohibitive.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2008-039.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2008-039
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  1. Gary B. Gorton, 2008. "The Panic of 2007," NBER Working Papers 14358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ambrose, Brent W & Sanders, Anthony B, 2003. "Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities: Prepayment and Default," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 179-96, March-May.
  3. Paul Bennett & Richard Peach & Stavros Peristiani, 1997. "Structural change in the mortgage market and the propensity to refinance," Research Paper 9736, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  4. Geetesh Bhardwaj & Rajdeep Sengupta, 2008. "Where's the smoking gun? a study of underwriting standards for US subprime mortgages," Working Papers 2008-036, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  5. Caplin, Andrew & Freeman, Charles & Tracy, Joseph, 1997. "Collateral Damage: Refinancing Constraints and Regional Recessions," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(4), pages 496-516, November.
  6. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 2003. "Is There a Bubble in the Housing Market?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(2), pages 299-362.
  7. Craig P. Aubuchon & David C. Wheelock, 2008. "How much have U.S. house prices fallen?," National Economic Trends, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Aug.
  8. Kau, James B, et al, 1993. "Option Theory and Floating-Rate Securities with a Comparison of Adjustable- and Fixed-Rate Mortgages," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66(4), pages 595-618, October.
  9. Hurst, Erik & Stafford, Frank, 2004. "Home Is Where the Equity Is: Mortgage Refinancing and Household Consumption," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(6), pages 985-1014, December.
  10. Christopher J. Mayer & Karen Pence, 2008. "Subprime Mortgages: What, Where, and to Whom?," NBER Working Papers 14083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Souphala Chomsisengphet & Anthony Pennington-Cross, 2006. "The evolution of the subprime mortgage market," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 31-56.
  12. Stanton, Richard, 1995. "Rational Prepayment and the Valuation Mortgage-Backed Securities," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 8(3), pages 677-708.
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