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Contagious Mortgage Default

  • Børsum, Øystein

    (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)

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    This paper analyses the default option typical to American mortgages. House-holds borrow to buy durable housing, but future house prices are uncertain, and households find it advantageous to default on their debt if house prices fall suffi- ciently. A key assumption of the model is that households are relegated to the rental market upon default, and that there is a small pecuniary inefficiency (“iceberg cost”) in renting. This leads defaulters to substitute consumption of other goods for housing; that is, the demand for housing falls upon default. Consequently, when some households default, aggregate demand for housing is reduced, hence house prices fall more, possibly inciting other households to default. This complementarity is a source of multiple equilibria, and a price externality. Using a specific case for which an analytical solution can be derived, I show that contagion is possible: it may be that the default of a minority (interpretable as sub-prime borrowers) spreads to a majority (interpretable as prime borrowers).

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    File URL: https://www.sv.uio.no/econ/english/research/unpublished-works/working-papers/pdf-files/2010/Memo-10-2010.pdf
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    Paper provided by Oslo University, Department of Economics in its series Memorandum with number 10/2010.

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    Length: 36 pages
    Date of creation: 29 Jun 2010
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2010_010
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, University of Oslo, P.O Box 1095 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
    Phone: 22 85 51 27
    Fax: 22 85 50 35
    Web page: http://www.oekonomi.uio.no/indexe.html
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    1. Peck, James & Shell, Karl, 2001. "Equilibrium Bank Runs," Working Papers 01-10r, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
    2. Foote, Christopher L. & Gerardi, Kristopher & Willen, Paul S., 2008. "Negative equity and foreclosure: Theory and evidence," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 234-245, September.
    3. Dirk Krueger, 2012. "Housing and the Macroeconomy: The Role of Bailout Guarantees for Government Sponsored Enterprises," 2012 Meeting Papers 102, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Chatterjee, Satyajit & Eyigungor, Burcu, 2009. "Foreclosures and house price dynamics: a quantitative analysis of the mortgage crisis and the foreclosure prevention policy," Working Papers 09-22, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    5. Manuel Adelino & Kristopher Gerardi & Paul S. Willen, 2009. "Why Don't Lenders Renegotiate More Home Mortgages? Redefaults, Self-Cures and Securitization," NBER Working Papers 15159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Morris A. Davis & Francois Ortalo-Magne, 2011. "Household Expenditures, Wages, Rents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(2), pages 248-261, April.
    7. Luigi Guiso & Paola Sapienza & Luigi Zingales, 2009. "Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages," NBER Working Papers 15145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Yongheng Deng & John M. Quigley & Robert Van Order, 2000. "Mortgage Terminations, Heterogeneity and the Exercise of Mortgage Options," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 275-308, March.
    9. Gervais, Martin, 2002. "Housing taxation and capital accumulation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(7), pages 1461-1489, October.
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