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Did the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Lead to Risky Lending?

Author

Listed:
  • Sumit Agarwal
  • Efraim Benmelech
  • Nittai Bergman
  • Amit Seru

Abstract

Yes, it did. We use exogenous variation in banks' incentives to conform to the standards of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) around regulatory exam dates to trace out the effect of the CRA on lending activity. Our empirical strategy compares lending behavior of banks undergoing CRA exams within a given census tract in a given month to the behavior of banks operating in the same census tract-month that do not face these exams. We find that adherence to the act led to riskier lending by banks: in the six quarters surrounding the CRA exams lending is elevated on average by about 5 percent every quarter and loans in these quarters default by about 15 percent more often. These patterns are accentuated in CRA-eligible census tracts and are concentrated among large banks. The effects are strongest during the time period when the market for private securitization was booming.

Suggested Citation

  • Sumit Agarwal & Efraim Benmelech & Nittai Bergman & Amit Seru, 2012. "Did the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Lead to Risky Lending?," NBER Working Papers 18609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18609 Note: AP CF
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andra C. Ghent & Rubén Hernández-Murillo & Michael T. Owyang, 2015. "Did Affordable Housing Legislation Contribute to the Subprime Securities Boom?," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 43(4), pages 820-854, November.
    2. Chevalier, Judith & Ellison, Glenn, 1997. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1167-1200, December.
    3. Sumit Agarwal & David Lucca & Amit Seru & Francesco Trebbi, 2014. "Inconsistent Regulators: Evidence from Banking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 889-938.
    4. Charles W. Calomiris, 2011. "An Incentive‐Robust Programme For Financial Reform," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 79(s2), pages 39-72, September.
    5. Itzhak Ben-David, 2011. "Financial Constraints and Inflated Home Prices during the Real Estate Boom," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 55-87, July.
    6. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Is the CRA responsible for the crisis?
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-01-09 21:53:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Tyler T. Yang & Jessie Y. Zhang, 2016. "Contagious Real Estate Cycle: Case of the US Subprime Related Crisis," International Real Estate Review, Asian Real Estate Society, vol. 19(2), pages 171-196.
    2. Murfin, Justin & Petersen, Mitchell, 2016. "Loans on sale: Credit market seasonality, borrower need, and lender rents," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 300-326.
    3. Saadi, Vahid, 2016. "Mortgage supply and the US housing boom: The role of the Community Reinvestment Act," SAFE Working Paper Series 155, Research Center SAFE - Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe, Goethe University Frankfurt.
    4. Bhutta, Neil, 2015. "The ins and outs of mortgage debt during the housing boom and bust," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 284-298.
    5. Cristian Badarinza & John Y. Campbell & Tarun Ramadorai, 2016. "International Comparative Household Finance," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 111-144, October.
    6. repec:hrv:faseco:34331451 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Bhutta, Neil, 2014. "The ins and outs of mortgage debt during the housing boom and bust," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-91, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Olsen, Edgar O. & Zabel, Jeffrey E., 2015. "US Housing Policy," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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