Spotlight on Research: The Distributional Impact of Negative Equity
The fallout from the recent meltdown in the housing market continues to afflict many homeowners today. A great deal of attention has been focused on the debilitating effects of a rise in foreclosures and falling house prices that accompanied the market downturn. The depressing effect of foreclosures on house prices has presented several challenges to homeowners. Declining home values have resulted in a number of homeowners owing more on their mortgage than their home is worth. Thus, the homeowners are saddled with negative equity, which is commonly referred to as ?being under water.? ...
Affordability and Availability of Rental Housing in the Third Federal Reserve District: 2015
In the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis and subsequent tightening of mortgage credit, many households have turned to the rental housing market, increasing pressure on an already limited supply of low-cost units. Using the most recent data available, this issue of Cascade Focus analyzes trends in rental housing affordability in the Third Federal Reserve District between 2007 and 2012. In addition to examining rates of housing cost burden for low-income renter households, this analysis evaluates whether the supply of affordable rental units is sufficient to meet the need. Lastly, this report ...
Insolvency after the 2005 bankruptcy reform
Using a comprehensive panel dataset on U.S. households, we study the effects of the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), the most substantive reform of personal bankruptcy in the United States since the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978. The 2005 legislation introduced a means test based on income to establish eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and increased the administrative requirements to file, leading to a rise in the opportunity cost and, especially, the financial cost of filing for bankruptcy. We study the effects of the reform on bankruptcy, insolvency, ...
The credit card debt puzzle: the role of preferences, credit risk, and financial literacy
We use the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to revisit what is termed the credit card debt puzzle: why consumers simultaneously co-hold high-interest credit card debt and low-interest assets that could be used to pay down this debt. This dataset contains unique information on intelligence, financial literacy, and preferences, while also providing a complete picture of households? balance sheets. Relative to individuals with no credit card debt but positive liquid assets, individuals in the puzzle group have higher discount rates, slightly lower financial literacy scores, and very ...
If Prices Fall, Mortgage Foreclosures Will Rise
In our previous post, we illustrated the recent extraordinarily strong growth in home prices and explored some of its key spatial patterns. Such price increases remind many of the first decade of the 2000s when home prices reversed, contributing to a broad housing market collapse that led to a wave of foreclosures, a financial crisis, and a prolonged recession. This post explores the risk that such an event could recur if home prices go into reverse now. We find that although the situation looks superficially similar to the brink of the last crisis, there are important differences that are ...
High-Skilled Services and Development in China
We document that the employment share of high-skill-intensive services is much lower in China than in countries with similar gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. We build a model of structural change with goods and low- and high-skill-intensive services to account for this observation. We find that large distortions limit the size of high-skill-intensive services in China. If they were removed, both high-skill-intensive services and GDP per capita would increase considerably. We document a strong presence of state-owned enterprises in high-skill-intensive services and argue that this ...
Mortgage-default research and the recent foreclosure crisis
This paper reviews recent research on mortgage default, focusing on the relationship of this research to the recent foreclosure crisis. Research on defaults was advanced both theoretically and empirically by the time the crisis began, but economists have moved the frontier further by improving data sources, building dynamic optimizing models of default, and explicitly addressing reverse causality between rising foreclosures and falling house prices. Mortgage defaults were also a key component of early research that pointed to subprime and other privately securitized mortgages as fundamental ...
Foreclosure Rate Drops during COVID-19 despite Dip in On-Time Mortgage Payments
While on-time residential mortgage payments dropped drastically during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, most delinquent borrowers avoided foreclosure.
The Rise and Fall of Consumption in the 2000s
U.S. consumption has gone through steep ups and downs since the turn of the millennium, but the causes of these fluctuations are still imperfectly identified. We quantify the relative impact on consumption growth of income, unemployment, house prices, credit scores, debt, expectations, foreclosures, inequality, and refinancings for four subperiods: the ?dot-com recession? (2001-2003), the ?subprime boom? (2004-2006), the Great Recession (2007-2009), and the ?tepid recovery? (2010-2012). We document that the explanatory power of different factors varies by subperiods, implying that a ...
A Shortage of Short Sales: Explaining the Underutilization of a Foreclosure Alternative
The Great Recession led to widespread mortgage defaults, with borrowers resorting to both foreclosures and short sales to resolve their defaults. I first quantify the economic impact of foreclosures relative to short sales by comparing the home price implications of both. After accounting for omitted variable bias, I find that homes selling as short sales transact at 9.2% to 10.5% higher prices on average than those that sell after foreclosure. Short sales also exert smaller negative externalities than foreclosures, with one short sale decreasing nearby property values by 1 percentage point ...