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Debt Relief and Slow Recovery: A Decade after Lehman

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  • Tomasz Piskorski
  • Amit Seru

Abstract

We follow a representative panel of millions of consumers in the U.S. from 2007 to 2017 and document several facts on the long-term effects of the Great Recession. There were about six million foreclosures in the ten-year period after Lehman’s collapse. Owners of multiple homes accounted for 25% of these foreclosures, while comprising only 13% of the market. Foreclosures displaced homeowners, with most of them moving at least once. Only a quarter of foreclosed households regained homeownership, taking an average four years to do so. Despite massive stimulus and debt relief policies, recovery was slow and varied dramatically across regions. House prices, consumption and unemployment remain below pre-crisis levels in about half of the zip codes in the U.S. Regions that recovered to pre-crisis levels took on average four to five years from the depths of the Great Recession. Regional variation in the extent and speed of recovery is strongly related to frictions affecting the pass-through of lower interest rates and debt relief to households including mortgage contract rigidity, refinancing constraints, and the organizational capacity of intermediaries to conduct loan renegotiations. A simple counterfactual based on our estimates suggest that, regardless of the narratives of the causes of housing boom and bust, alleviating these frictions could have reduced the relative foreclosure rate by more than half and resulted in up to twice as fast recovery of house prices, consumption, and employment. Our findings have implications for mortgage market design, monetary policy pass-through, and macro-prudential and housing policy interventions.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomasz Piskorski & Amit Seru, 2018. "Debt Relief and Slow Recovery: A Decade after Lehman," NBER Working Papers 25403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25403
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    Cited by:

    1. Diamond, Rebecca & Guren, Adam & Tan, Rose, 2020. "The Effect of Foreclosures on Homeowners, Tenants, and Landlords," Research Papers 3877, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.

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    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G2 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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