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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 proprietary loan-level data, we examine the ability of the government to impact mortgage refinancing activity and spur consumption by focusing on the Home Affordable Refinancing 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 1.4% in interest rate that amounts to $3,500 in annual savings. Durable spending by borrowers increased significantly after refinancing, with larger increase among more indebted borrowers. 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 was reduced by 10% to 20% and annual savings lower by $400 to $800 among those who refinanced. These effects were amplified for the most indebted borrowers, the key target of the program. A life-cycle model of refinancing quantitatively rationalizes these patterns and produces significant welfare gains from altering the refinancing market by removing the housing equity eligibility constraint, like HARP did, and by lowering competitive frictions. Our work has 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
    Note: CF EFG IO ME AP PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Beraja & Andreas Fuster & Erik Hurst & Joseph Vavra, 2017. "Regional Heterogeneity and Monetary Policy," NBER Working Papers 23270, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:eee:jfinec:v:130:y:2018:i:3:p:453-483 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:jbfina:v:82:y:2017:i:c:p:165-179 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. David Berger & Nicholas Turner & Eric Zwick, 2016. "Stimulating Housing Markets," NBER Working Papers 22903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. 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.
    6. 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 Group Munich.
    7. Kurt Mitman, 2016. "Macroeconomic Effects of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(8), pages 2219-2255, August.
    8. Paul Frijters & Benno Torgler & Christian Gillitzer & Jin Cong Wang, 2016. "Housing Wealth Effects: Cross-sectional Evidence from New Vehicle Registrations," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 92, pages 30-51, June.
    9. 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.
    10. Carlos Dobkin & Amy Finkelstein & Raymond Kluender & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2018. "The Economic Consequences of Hospital Admissions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(2), pages 308-352, February.
    11. Marcus Ingholt, 2018. "LTV vs. DTI Constraints: When Did They Bind, and How Do They Interact?," 2018 Meeting Papers 866, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. 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.
    13. Beltratti, Andrea & Benetton, Matteo & Gavazza, Alessandro, 2017. "The role of prepayment penalties in mortgage loans," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 165-179.
    14. 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.
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    16. Stephanie Johnson & John Mondragon & Anthony DeFusco, 2017. "Regulating Household Leverage," 2017 Meeting Papers 327, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    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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