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The Consequences of Mortgage Credit Expansion: Evidence from the 2007 Mortgage Default Crisis

  • Atif Mian
  • Amir Sufi

We demonstrate that a rapid expansion in the supply of mortgages driven by disintermediation explains a large fraction of recent U.S. house price appreciation and subsequent mortgage defaults. We identify the effect of shifts in the supply of mortgage credit by exploiting within-county variation across zip codes that differed in latent demand for mortgages in the mid 1990s. From 2001 to 2005, high latent demand zip codes experienced large relative decreases in denial rates, increases in mortgages originated, and increases in house price appreciation, despite the fact that these zip codes experienced significantly negative relative income and employment growth over this time period. These patterns for high latent demand zip codes were driven by a sharp relative increase in the fraction of loans sold by originators shortly after origination, a process which we refer to as "disintermediation." The increase in disintermediation-driven mortgage supply to high latent demand zip codes from 2001 to 2005 led to subsequent large increases in mortgage defaults from 2005 to 2007. Our results suggest that moral hazard on behalf of originators selling mortgages is a main culprit for the U.S. mortgage default crisis.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13936.

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Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2008. "Summary of "the consequences of mortgage credit expansion"," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue May, pages 129-132.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13936
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  1. 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.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2001. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1931, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds and the Real Sector," Working papers 95-1, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  5. Yuliya Demyanyk & Otto Van Hemert, 2007. "Understanding the subprime mortgage crisis," Supervisory Policy Analysis Working Papers 2007-05, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  6. Charles Himmelberg & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2005. "Assessing high house prices: bubbles, fundamentals, and misperceptions," Staff Reports 218, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  7. Genesove, D. & Mayer, C.J., 1994. "Equity and Time to Sale in the Real Estate Market," Working papers 94-02, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Mark Doms & Fred Furlong & John Krainer, 2007. "Subprime mortgage delinquency rates," Working Paper Series 2007-33, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  9. Stein, Jeremy C, 1995. "Prices and Trading Volume in the Housing Market: A Model with Down-Payment Effects," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 379-406, May.
  10. 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.
  11. Diamond, Douglas W, 1991. "Monitoring and Reputation: The Choice between Bank Loans and Directly Placed Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 689-721, August.
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