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The impact of housing markets on consumer debt: credit report evidence from 1999 to 2012

Author

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  • Meta Brown
  • Sarah Stein
  • Basit Zafar

Abstract

We investigate the impact of large swings in the housing market on nonmortgage borrowing, including student, credit card, auto, and home equity debts. For this purpose, we use CoreLogic geographic house price variation, matched with rich data on consumer liabilities from the Equifax-sourced FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel. The length and timing of our panel allow us to study the consumer debt portfolio response to house price changes during a boom-and-bust cycle of historic magnitude as well as during more ordinary times. In first-differenced instrumental variables estimation, we find that during 1999-2001, homeowners substituted out of nonhousing (largely credit card) debt and into home equity-based debt at a nearly dollar-for-dollar rate in response to house price increases. During the housing boom of 2002-06, however, homeowners abandoned the practice of substituting into less costly debt as equity grew, and instead increased obligations across the board. From 2007-12, sample homeowners experienced a 23 percent average house price decline, and withdrew from home equity debt without adding to non-housing debt. We observe substantial heterogeneity in this pattern: Substitution in both 1999-2001 and 2007-12 ranges from 50 cents to more than dollar-for-dollar for older and prime borrowers, while the decidedly nonprime borrow more modestly, show less evidence of substitution, and shed large amounts of all types of debt from 2007-12. Finally, difference-in-differences and FD-IV estimates are consistent with both 1) a 2012 relative debt overhang of at least $1,800 on average, despite little remaining home equity advantage, for homeowners who experienced a more pronounced boom-and-bust cycle and 2) little substitution out of home equity debt into student loans in response to recent house price declines.

Suggested Citation

  • Meta Brown & Sarah Stein & Basit Zafar, 2013. "The impact of housing markets on consumer debt: credit report evidence from 1999 to 2012," Staff Reports 617, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:617
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael F. Lovenheim, 2011. "The Effect of Liquid Housing Wealth on College Enrollment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(4), pages 741-771.
    2. Michael F. Lovenheim & Kevin J. Mumford, 2013. "Do Family Wealth Shocks Affect Fertility Choices? Evidence from the Housing Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(2), pages 464-475, May.
    3. Todd Sinai & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2005. "Owner-Occupied Housing as a Hedge Against Rent Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 763-789.
    4. Campbell, John Y. & Cocco, Joao F., 2007. "How do house prices affect consumption? Evidence from micro data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 591-621, April.
    5. Hanno N. Lustig & Stijn G. Van Nieuwerburgh, 2005. "Housing Collateral, Consumption Insurance, and Risk Premia: An Empirical Perspective," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(3), pages 1167-1219, June.
    6. Michael F. Lovenheim & C. Lockwood Reynolds, 2013. "The Effect of Housing Wealth on College Choice: Evidence from the Housing Boom," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(1), pages 1-35.
    7. 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.
    8. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2011. "House Prices, Home Equity-Based Borrowing, and the US Household Leverage Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2132-2156, August.
    9. Glenn B. Canner & Karen E. Dynan & Wayne Passmore, 2002. "Mortgage refinancing in 2001 and early 2002," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Dec, pages 469-481.
    10. Donghoon Lee & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 2010. "An introduction to the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel," Staff Reports 479, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    11. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
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    Cited by:

    1. Grant Graziani & Wilbert van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2016. "Workers' Spending Response to the 2011 Payroll Tax Cuts," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 124-159, November.
    2. repec:taf:chosxx:v:32:y:2017:i:2:p:168-185 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Holger M. Mueller & Constantine Yannelis, 2017. "Students in Distress: Labor Market Shocks, Student Loan Default, and Federal Insurance Programs," NBER Working Papers 23284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Stephanie Moulton & Donald Haurin & Samuel Dodini & Maximilian D. Schmeiser, 2016. "How Home Equity Extraction and Reverse Mortgages Affect the Credit Outcomes of Senior Households," Working Papers wp351, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    5. Don Schlagenhauf & Carlos Garriga, 2017. "Identifying "Default Thresholds" in Consumer Liabilities Using High Frequency Data," 2017 Meeting Papers 1305, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Gropp, Reint & Krainer, John & Laderman, Elizabeth, 2014. "Did Consumers Want Less Debt? Consumer Credit Demand Versus Supply in the Wake of the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis," Working Paper Series 2014-8, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, revised 01 Feb 2014.
    7. Li, Jieying & Zhang, Xin, 2017. "House Prices, Home Equity, and Personal Debt Composition," Working Paper Series 343, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    8. Mueller, Holger M & Yannelis, Constantine, 2017. "Students in Distress: Labor Market Shocks, Student Loan Default, and Federal Insurance Programs," CEPR Discussion Papers 11938, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    Keywords

    Housing - Prices ; Consumer credit ; Debt ; Home ownership;

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