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15 posts on "Mortgages"

February 15, 2017

Houses as ATMs No Longer



LSE_Houses as ATMs No Longer

Housing equity is the primary form of collateral that households use for borrowing. This makes it a potentially important source of consumption funding, especially for younger households. In a previous post we showed that owner’s equity in residential real estate has finally, thanks to increasing home prices, rebounded to and essentially re-attained its 2005 peak level. Yet in spite of a gain of more than $7 trillion in housing equity since 2012, so far homeowners haven’t been tapping this equity at anything like the pace we witnessed during the housing boom that ended in 2006. In this post, we analyze the changes in equity withdrawal.

Continue reading "Houses as ATMs No Longer" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Credit, Household Finance, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 20, 2016

Risky Business: Government Mortgage Insurance Programs



Editors’ note: The column headings in the final table in this post have been corrected from an earlier version.

LSE_Risky Business: Government Mortgage Insurance Programs

Homeownership has long been a U.S. public policy goal. One of the many ways that the federal government subsidizes homeownership is through mortgage insurance programs operated by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the USDA’s Rural Housing Service (RHS). These programs facilitate home financing opportunities for first-time and low- and moderate-income homebuyers. Virtually all of these government-insured mortgages are securitized by Ginnie Mae, a government agency that guarantees the timely payment of principal and interest of these loans to investors that purchase the securities. That is, the U.S. taxpayers assume the credit risk on these mortgages. In this post, we assess the riskiness of these loans.

Continue reading "Risky Business: Government Mortgage Insurance Programs" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Financial Institutions, Household Finance, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 12, 2016

Just Released: Household Debt Grew Slowly in 2015 as Mortgage Balances Stayed Flat



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This morning, New York Fed President William Dudley spoke to the press about the growing resilience of the U.S. household sector. His speech was followed by a briefing by New York Fed economists on developments in household borrowing. Their presentation included a detailed decomposition on mortgage borrowing and payment trends, and some new research on how borrowing has evolved differently across age groups. Today, the New York Fed also released the Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit for the fourth quarter of 2015. The report, the press briefing , and the following analysis are all based on the New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel, which is itself based on consumer credit data from Equifax.

Continue reading "Just Released: Household Debt Grew Slowly in 2015 as Mortgage Balances Stayed Flat" »

Posted by Blog Author at 10:05 AM in Household Finance, Housing, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (1)

October 15, 2015

Evaluating the Rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac



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In September 2008, the U.S. government engineered a dramatic rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, placing the two firms into conservatorship and committing billions of taxpayer dollars to stabilize their financial position. While these actions were characterized at the time as a temporary “time out,” seven years later the firms remain in conservatorship and their ultimate fate is uncertain. In this post, we evaluate the success of the 2008 rescue on several key dimensions, drawing from our recent research article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Continue reading "Evaluating the Rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Crisis, Financial Institutions, Housing, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (5)

August 24, 2015

Rethinking Mortgage Design

John Campbell, Andreas Fuster, David Lucca, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, and James Vickery

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Because mortgages make up the majority of household debt in most developed countries, mortgage design has important implications for macroeconomic policy and household welfare. As one example, most U.S. mortgages have fixed interest rates—if interest rates fall, existing borrowers need to refinance to lower their interest payments. In practice, households are often slow to refinance, or may not be able to do so. As a result, the transmission of U.S. monetary policy is dampened relative to countries like the United Kingdom where mortgage rates on most loans adjust automatically with short-term interest rates. In this post, we discuss some of the key takeaways from a recent conference where policymakers, academics, practitioners, and other experts convened to discuss mortgage design and consider possible mortgage market innovations.

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Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Household Finance, Housing, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 20, 2015

Credit Supply and the Housing Boom



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There is no consensus among economists as to what drove the rise of U.S. house prices and household debt in the period leading up to the recent financial crisis. In this post, we argue that the fundamental factor behind that boom was an increase in the supply of mortgage credit, which was brought about by securitization and shadow banking, along with a surge in capital inflows from abroad. This argument is based on the interpretation of four macroeconomic developments between 2000 and 2006 provided by a general equilibrium model of housing and credit.

Continue reading "Credit Supply and the Housing Boom" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Macroecon, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (5)

July 15, 2013

Improving Access to Refinancing Opportunities for Underwater Mortgages

Joshua Abel and Joseph Tracy

Since the onset of the housing crisis, a focus of policymakers has been to help underwater homeowners lower their monthly mortgage payments by refinancing, principally through the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). This enables households to commit more money to consumption, debt reduction, and saving. Lower monthly payments also decrease the risk of mortgage defaults, allowing homeowners to stay in their homes and reducing expected losses for mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which remain under conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Stanching the flow of defaults also helps to firm up the housing market and, therefore, the economy as a whole. In this post, we examine some simple adjustments to HARP that would help to continue the program’s recent success and provide additional support to the housing market recovery—an undertaking that has added significance with the recent increase in mortgage rates, which could hamper refinancing activity moving forward.

Continue reading "Improving Access to Refinancing Opportunities for Underwater Mortgages" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Housing, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (4)

February 13, 2013

Underwater and Drowning? Some Facts about Mortgages that Could Be Targeted by Eminent Domain

Andreas Fuster, Caitlin Gorback, and Paul Willen

Since the onset of the subprime crisis, many places across the United States have been affected by high levels of negative equity (meaning that borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth), an associated flood of foreclosures, and loss of local wealth. In mid-2012, a community advisory firm, Mortgage Resolution Partners (MRP) approached the government of San Bernardino County, California (a region with particularly high levels of negative equity) and pitched the idea of using eminent domain to seize privately securitized mortgage loans in order to restructure or refinance them. The MRP proposal was largely based on a plan by Cornell University law professor Robert Hockett. In late January, this controversial plan was abandoned by San Bernardino County, yet it remains under consideration in other counties. While a lot of the debate surrounding the plan has centered on value judgments and legal issues, in this post we look at available data in order to get an idea of the landscape of loans that could have been affected by such a program in San Bernardino County.

Continue reading "Underwater and Drowning? Some Facts about Mortgages that Could Be Targeted by Eminent Domain " »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Household Finance, Housing, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (4)

September 24, 2012

How Much Can Refinancing Reduce the Risk of Mortgage Defaults?

Joshua Abel, Joseph Tracy, and Joshua Wright

Improving the ability of homeowners to take advantage of prevailing low mortgage rates by refinancing has remained an active topic of discussion. In a speech in January, New York Fed President Bill Dudley advocated for efforts “to see refinancing made more broadly available on a streamlined basis and with moderate fees to all prime conforming borrowers who are current on their payments.” In an earlier post, we argued that such a refinancing program would not represent a zero sum game between borrowers and investors; rather, it would yield net macroeconomic benefits.

Continue reading "How Much Can Refinancing Reduce the Risk of Mortgage Defaults?" »

Posted by Blog Author at 7:00 AM in Housing, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (2)

August 29, 2012

Just Released: Has Household Deleveraging Continued?

Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally, and Wilbert van der Klaauw

Today’s release of the 2012Q2 Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit indicates a continuation of the downward trend in household debt, which followed a long period of substantial increases. As of June 30, 2012, total outstanding household debt was down nearly $1.3 trillion since its peak in the third quarter of 2008. In the Liberty Street Economics blog’s inaugural post, we used the FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel to decompose this change in household indebtedness. Leading up to the crisis, households increased their cash holdings available for consumption by extracting equity from their homes, using home equity lines of credit and cash-out refinances, and by increasing their nonmortgage balances, such as credit card and auto loan balances. When the Great Recession struck, consumers reversed this behavior and began reducing rather than increasing these obligations. We demonstrated that although some of the reduction in household debt was due to charge-offs (the removal of obligations from consumers’ credit reports because of defaults), much of the debt reduction seen at the overall level was attributable to deleveraging: households actively borrowing less and paying down existing liabilities. In this post and accompanying interactive charts, we update our analysis, using the newly available 2010 and 2011 FRBNY Consumer Credit Panel data to determine whether those trends have continued.

Continue reading "Just Released: Has Household Deleveraging Continued?" »

Posted by Blog Author at 11:00 AM in Household Finance, Mortgages | Permalink | Comments (1)
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