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Mortgage Refinancing, Consumer Spending, and Competition: Evidence from the Home Affordable Refinancing Program

Author

Listed:
  • Sumit Agarwal
  • Gene Amromin
  • Souphala Chomsisengphet
  • Tim Landvoigt
  • Tomasz Piskorski
  • Amit Seru
  • Vincent Yao

Abstract

Using loan-level mortgage data merged with consumer credit records, we examine the ability of the government to impact mortgage refinancing activity and spur consumption by focusing on the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). The policy relaxed housing equity constraints by extending government credit guarantee on insufficiently collateralized mortgages refinanced by intermediaries. Difference-in-difference tests based on program eligibility criteria reveal a significant increase in refinancing activity by HARP. More than three million eligible borrowers with primarily fixed-rate mortgages refinanced under HARP, receiving an average reduction of 1.45% in interest rate that amounts to $3,000 in annual savings. Durable spending by borrowers increased significantly after refinancing and regions more exposed to the program saw a relative increase in non-durable and durable consumer spending, a decline in foreclosure rates, and faster recovery in house prices. A variety of identification strategies suggest that competitive frictions in the refinancing market partly hampered the program’s impact: the take-up rate and annual savings among those who refinanced were reduced by 10% to 20%. These effects were amplified for the most indebted borrowers, the key target of the program. These findings have implications for future policy interventions, pass-through of monetary policy through household balance-sheets and design of the mortgage market.

Suggested Citation

  • Sumit Agarwal & Gene Amromin & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Tim Landvoigt & Tomasz Piskorski & Amit Seru & Vincent Yao, 2015. "Mortgage Refinancing, Consumer Spending, and Competition: Evidence from the Home Affordable Refinancing Program," NBER Working Papers 21512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21512
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Maturana, Gonzalo & Nickerson, Jordan, 2020. "Real effects of workers’ financial distress: Evidence from teacher spillovers," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 137-151.
    2. David Berger & Nicholas Turner & Eric Zwick, 2016. "Stimulating Housing Markets," NBER Working Papers 22903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Marco Di Maggio & Amir Kermani & Christopher Palmer, 2016. "How Quantitative Easing Works: Evidence on the Refinancing Channel," NBER Working Papers 22638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Sumit Agarwal & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Neale Mahoney & Strö & Johannes bel, 2015. "Do Banks Pass Through Credit Expansions? The Marginal Profitability of Consumer Lending During the Great Recession," CESifo Working Paper Series 5521, CESifo.
    5. Tomasz Piskorski & Amit Seru, 2018. "Debt Relief and Slow Recovery: A Decade after Lehman," NBER Working Papers 25403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Buchak, Greg & Matvos, Gregor & Piskorski, Tomasz & Seru, Amit, 2018. "Fintech, regulatory arbitrage, and the rise of shadow banks," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(3), pages 453-483.
    7. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Lara Loewenstein & Paul S. Willen, 2020. "Evaluating the Benefits of a Streamlined Refinance Program," Working Papers 202021, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    8. Joseph Vavra & Erik Hurst & Andreas Fuster & Martin Beraja, 2017. "Regional Heterogeneity and Monetary Policy," 2017 Meeting Papers 270, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Tomasz Piskorski & Alexei Tchistyi, 2017. "An Equilibrium Model of Housing and Mortgage Markets with State-Contingent Lending Contracts," NBER Working Papers 23452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Elora Raymond, 2016. "Negative equity in the Sixth Federal Reserve District," FRB Atlanta Community and Economic Development Discussion Paper 2016-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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    12. Kurt Mitman, 2016. "Macroeconomic Effects of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(8), pages 2219-2255, August.
    13. Anthony A Defusco & Stephanie Johnson & John Mondragon, 2020. "Regulating Household Leverage," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(2), pages 914-958.
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    16. Sumit Agarwal & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Neale Mahoney & Johannes Stroebel, 2015. "Do Banks Pass Through Credit Expansions to Consumers Who Want to Borrow?," NBER Working Papers 21567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Marcus Ingholt, 2018. "LTV vs. DTI Constraints: When Did They Bind, and How Do They Interact?," 2018 Meeting Papers 866, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    18. Stuart A. Gabriel & Matteo Iacoviello & Chandler Lutz, 2020. "A Crisis of Missed Opportunities? Foreclosure Costs and Mortgage Modification During the Great Recession," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2020-053, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
    • L85 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Real Estate Services

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