Tight inventories of homes for sale combined with strong demand pushed up national house prices by an eye-popping 19 percent, year over year, in January 2022. This surge in house prices created concerns that first-time buyers would increasingly be priced out of owning a home. However, using our Consumer Credit Panel, which is based on anonymized Equifax credit report data, we find that the share of purchase mortgages going to first-time buyers actually increased slightly from 2020 to 2021.
During the pandemic, national home values and housing activity soared as mortgage rates declined to historic lows. Under the canonical “user cost” house price model, home values are held to be very sensitive to interest rates, especially at low interest rate levels. A calibration of this model can account for the house price boom with the observed decline in interest rates. But empirically, we find that home values are nowhere near as sensitive to interest rates as the user cost model predicts. This lower sensitivity is also found in prior economic research. Thus, the historical experience suggests that lower interest rates can only account for a tiny fraction of the pandemic house price boom. Instead, we find more scope for lower interest rates to explain the rise in housing activity, both sales and construction.
Since the depths of the Great Recession, household debt has increased from a low of $11 trillion in 2013 to more than $14 trillion in 2020 (see the New York Fed Household Debt and Credit Report). In this post, we examine how consumers’ repayment priorities have evolved over that time. Specifically, we seek to answer the following question: When consumers repay some but not all of their loans, which types do they choose to keep paying and which do they fall behind on?
The sensitivity of long-term interest rates to short-term interest rates is a central feature of the yield curve. This post, which draws on our Staff Report, shows that long- and short-term rates co-move to a surprising extent at high frequencies (over daily or monthly periods). However, since 2000, they co-move far less at lower frequencies (over six months or a year). We discuss potential explanations for this finding and its implications for the transmission of monetary policy.
In January 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department made its first sale of Floating Rate Notes (FRNs), securities whose coupon rates vary over time depending on the course of short-term rates. Now that a few years have passed, we have enough data to analyze dealer trading and positioning in FRNs. In this post, we assess the level of trading and positioning, concentration across issues, and auction cycle effects, comparing these properties to those of other types of Treasury securities.
Why have interest rates stayed low for so long after the financial crisis—and will they remain low for the foreseeable future?
The Federal Reserve has kept interest rates at historic lows for the last six years, but eventually rates will return to their long-term averages.
Decades of research have produced a library on the “momentum” anomaly in markets. Momentum refers to the tendency for financial assets with the best prior returns to continue to outperform, at least for a time.
Banks’ practice of tying loan interest rates to borrowers’ credit default swap (CDS) spreads constitutes one of the most recent financial innovations.