2014-05 | With Takhtamanova and Lang | March 2014
The U.S. housing boom during the first part of the past decade was marked by rapid house price appreciation and greater access to mortgage credit for lower credit-rated borrowers. The subsequent collapse of the housing market and the high default rates on residential mortgages raise the issue of whether the pace of house price appreciation and the mix of borrowers may have affected the influence of fundamentals in housing and mortgage markets. This paper examines that issue in connection with one aspect of mortgage financing, the choice among fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. This analysis is motivated in part by the increased use of adjustable-rate mortgage financing, notably among lower credit-rated borrowers, during the peak of the housing boom. Based on analysis of a large sample of loan level data, we find strong evidence that house price appreciation dampened the influence of a number of fundamentals (mortgage pricing terms and other interest rate related metrics) that previous research finds to be important determinants of mortgage financing choices. With regard to the mix of borrowers, the evidence indicates that, while low risk-rated borrowers were affected on the margin more by house price appreciation, on balance those borrowers tended be at least as responsive to fundamentals as high risk rated borrowers. The higher propensity of low credit-rated borrowers to choose adjustable-rate financing compared with high credit-rated borrowers in the housing boom appears to have been related to borrower credit risk metrics. Given the evidence related to loan pricing terms, other interest rate metrics and fixed effects, the relation of credit risk to mortgage financing choice seems more consistent with considerations such as credit constraints, risk preferences, and mortgage tenor than just a systematic lack of financial sophistication among higher credit risk borrowers.
2007-33 | With Doms and Krainer | November 2007
We evaluate the importance of three different channels for explaining the recent performance of subprime mortgages. First, the riskiness of the subprime borrowing pool may have increased. Second, pockets of regional economic weakness may have helped
push a larger proportion of subprime borrowers into delinquency. Third, for a variety of reasons, the recent history of local house price appreciation and the degree of house price deceleration may have affected delinquency rates on subprime mortgages. While we find
a role for all three candidate explanations, patterns in recent house price appreciation are far and away the best single predictor of delinquency levels and changes in delinquencies. Importantly, after controlling for the current level of house price appreciation, measures
of house price deceleration remain significant predictors of changes in subprime delinquencies. The results point to a possible role for changes in house price expectations for explaining changes in delinquencies.
2007-21 | With Krainer | September 2007
We develop new techniques to assess the relationship between commercial bank performance and the economic conditions in the markets in which they operate. In the analysis, we allow for heterogeneity in the responses of banks to regional economic conditions. We find a statistically significant relationship between bank performance and shocks to the regional markets in which they operate. We find that region-specific shocks have a significant and persistent effect on the cross-sectional variance of bank performance in the market. That is, shocks affecting average performance of banks in a region also tend to increase the dispersion of their performance. We demonstrate that this effect is due to heterogeneity in the banks’ exposures to their regional economies. Moreover, by allowing for this heterogeneity, we find that systematic responses to regional economic effects are notably more important in explaining the variation in bank performance than suggested by analysis in which responses are constrain to be the same for all banks.