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A Narrative Analysis of Mortgage Asset Purchases by Federal Agencies


  • Andrew J. Fieldhouse
  • Karel Mertens


This paper provides a narrative analysis of regulatory policy changes affecting the purchases and holdings of mortgages and related securities of five US government entities over the 1968–2014 period. We focus on federal government policies that aim to influence the allocation and/or supply of residential mortgage credit. We use contemporary primary sources and various institutional histories to identify significant policy interventions, to document their economic and regulatory context, surrounding motives, and pertinent timing, as well as to quantify projected impacts on agencies’ mortgage holdings. Finally, we classify each significant policy change as either ‘cyclically motivated’ or ‘non-cyclically motivated.’ The results of the narrative analysis of federal housing credit policy changes yield a record of events that can be used as an instrumental variable for agency purchase activity.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew J. Fieldhouse & Karel Mertens, 2017. "A Narrative Analysis of Mortgage Asset Purchases by Federal Agencies," NBER Working Papers 23165, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23165
    Note: ME

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eichengreen, Barry & Irwin, Douglas A., 2010. "The Slide to Protectionism in the Great Depression: Who Succumbed and Why?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 70(04), pages 871-897, December.
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    7. Barbezat, Daniel, 1989. "Cooperation and Rivalry in the International Steel Cartel, 1926–1933," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(02), pages 435-447, June.
    8. Dye, Alan & Sicotte, Richard, 2006. "How brinkmanship saved Chadbourne: Credibility and the International Sugar Agreement of 1931," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 223-256, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Julien Champagne & Rodrigo Sekkel, 2017. "Changes in Monetary Regimes and the Identification of Monetary Policy Shocks: Narrative Evidence from Canada," Staff Working Papers 17-39, Bank of Canada.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • R38 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Government Policy

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