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Leverage and the Foreclosure Crisis

  • Dean Corbae
  • Erwan Quintin

How much of the recent rise in foreclosures can be explained by the large number of high-leverage mortgage contracts originated during the housing boom? We present a model where heterogeneous households select from a set of mortgage contracts and choose whether to default on their payments given realizations of income and housing price shocks. The set of mortgage contracts consists of loans with high downpayments and loans with low downpayments. We run an experiment where the use of low downpayment loans is initially limited by payment-to-income requirements but then becomes unrestricted for 8 years. The relaxation of approval standards causes homeownership rates, high-leverage originations and the frequency of high interest rate loans to rise much like they did in the US between 1998-2006. When home values fall by the magnitude observed in the US from 2007-08, default rates increase by over 180% as they do in the data. Two distinct counterfactual experiments where approval standards remain the same throughout suggest that the increased availability of high-leverage loans prior to the crisis can explain between 40% to 65% of the initial rise in foreclosure rates. Furthermore, we run policy experiments which suggest that recourse could have had significant dampening effects during the crisis.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19323.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19323
Note: EFG
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  1. Dirk Krueger, 2012. "Housing and the Macroeconomy: The Role of Bailout Guarantees for Government Sponsored Enterprises," 2012 Meeting Papers 102, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Andra C. Ghent & Marianna Kudlyak, 2010. "Recourse and residential mortgage default: theory and evidence from U.S. states," Working Paper 09-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  3. John V. Duca & John Muellbauer & Anthony Murphy, 2011. "House Prices and Credit Constraints: Making Sense of the U.S. Experience," SERC Discussion Papers 0077, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  4. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Makoto Nakajima & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2002. "A Quantitative Theory of Unsecured Consumer Credit with Risk of Default," Centro de Alti­simos Estudios Ri­os Pe©rez(CAERP) 2, Centro de Altisimos Estudios Rios Perez (CAERP).
  5. Leonardo Martinez & Juan Carlos Hatchondo & Juan M. Sanchez, 2012. "Mortgage Defaults," IMF Working Papers 12/26, International Monetary Fund.
  6. 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.
  7. Kurt Mitman, 2012. "Macroeconomic Effects of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Policies," 2012 Meeting Papers 563, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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