83 research outputs found

    Why didn’t Canada’s housing market go bust?

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    Housing markets in the United States and Canada are similar in many respects, but each has fared quite differently since the onset of the financial crisis. A comparison of the two markets suggests that relaxed lending standards likely played a critical role in the U.S. housing bust.Mortgage loans ; Housing - Canada

    Land Titles, Credit Markets and Wealth Distributions

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    Does the existence of formal title to land and real estate matter for the distribution of wealth? This paper reviews the empirical literature on the economic impact of land and real estate administration systems across countries. This paper argues that a functioning credit market for secured credit is necessary to realize the full benefits of legal title to private real estate. This paper also reviews quantitative economic theory on wealth distribution to assess the likely impact of different land registration systems on wealth inequality. The implication of current theory is that poor land administration systems may sometimes lead to lower levels of wealth inequality than better land registration systems.land titles, credit markets, wealth distribution

    What Banks Do and Markets Don't: Cross-subsidization

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    We show that interbank markets are a poor substitute for ``broad'' banks that operate across regions or sectors. In the presence of regional or sectoral asset and liquidity shocks, interbank markets can distribute liquidity efficiently, but fail to respond efficiently to asset shocks. Broad banks can condition on the joint distribution of both shocks and, hence, achieve an efficient internal allocation of capital. This allocation involves the cross-subsidization of loans across regions or sectors. Compared to regional banks that are linked through well-functioning interbank markets, broad banks lead to higher levels of aggregate investment, higher output, and less fluctuations within regions. However, broad banks generate endogenously aggregate uncertainty.Banking Restrictions, Interbank Markets, Universal Banking, Endogenous Uncertainty

    Limited enforcement and efficient interbank arrangements

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    Banks have historically provided mutual insurance against asset risk, where the insurance arrangement itself was characterized by limited enforcement. This paper shows that a non-trivial interaction between asset and liquidity risk plays a crucial role in shaping optimal banking arrangements in the presence of limited enforcement. We find that liquidity shocks are essential for the provision of insurance against asset shocks, as they mitigate interbank enforcement problems. These enforcement problems generate endogenous aggregate uncertainty as investment allocations depend upon the joint distribution of shocks. Paradoxically, a negative correlation between liquidity and asset shocks ameliorates enforcement limitations and facilitates interbank cooperation.Risk ; Liquidity (Economics)

    Consumer bankruptcy: a fresh start

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    American consumer bankruptcy provides for a Fresh Start through the discharge of a household’s debt. Until recently, many European countries specified a No Fresh Start policy of life-long liability for debt. The trade-off between these two policies is that while Fresh Start provides insurance across states, it drives up interest rates and thereby makes life-cycle smoothing more difficult. This paper quantitatively compares these bankruptcy rules using a life-cycle model with incomplete markets calibrated to the U.S. and Germany. A key innovation is that households face idiosyncratic uncertainty about their net asset holdings (expense shocks) and labor income. We find that expense uncertainty plays a key role in evaluating consumer bankruptcy laws.

    Accounting for the Rise in Consumer Bankruptcies

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    Personal bankruptcies in the United States have increased dramatically, rising from 1.4 per thousand working age population in 1970 to 8.5 in 2002. We use a heterogeneous agent life-cycle model with competitive financial intermediaries who can observe households' earnings, age and current asset holdings to evaluate several commonly offered explanations. We find that increased uncertainty (income shocks, expense uncertainty) cannot quantitatively account for the rise in bankruptcies. Instead, the rise in filings appears to mainly reflect changes in the credit market environment. We find that credit market innovations which cause a decrease in the transactions cost of lending and a decline in the cost of bankruptcy can largely accounting for the rise in consumer bankruptcy. We also argue that the abolition of usury laws and other legal changes are unimportant.

    Accounting for the Rise in Consumer Bankruptcies

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    Personal bankruptcies in the United States have increased dramatically, rising from 1.4 per thousand working age population in 1970 to 8.5 in 2002. We use a heterogeneous agent life-cycle model with competitive financial intermediaries who can observe households’ earnings, age and current asset holdings to evaluate several commonly offered explanations. We find that increased uncertainty (income shocks, expense uncertainty) cannot quantitatively account for the rise in bankruptcies. Instead, stories related to a change in the credit market environment are more plausible. In particular, we find that a combination of a decrease in the transactions cost of lending and a decline in the cost of bankruptcy does a good job in accounting for the rise in consumer bankruptcy. We also argue that the abolition of usury laws and other legal changes are unimportant.Consumer Bankruptcy, Uncertainty, Credit Markets, Stigma

    A multi-sectoral approach to the U.S. Great Depression

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    We document sectoral differences in changes in output, hours worked, prices, and nominal wages in the United States during the Great Depression. We explore whether contractionary monetary shocks combined with different degrees of nominal wage frictions across sectors are consistent with both sectoral as well as aggregate facts. To do so, we construct a two-sector model where goods from each sector are used as intermediates to produce the sectoral goods that in turn produce final output. One sector is assumed to have flexible nominal wages, while nominal wages in the other sector are set using Taylor contracts. We calibrate the model to the U.S. economy in 1929, and then feed in monetary shocks estimated from the data. We find that while the model can qualitatively replicate the key sectoral facts, it can account for less than a third of the decline in aggregate output. This decline in output is roughly half as large as the one implied by a one-sector model. Alternatively, if wages are set using Calvo-type contracts, the decline in output is even smaller.Depressions ; Wages ; Prices

    The democratization of credit and the rise in consumer bankruptcies

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    Financial innovations are a common explanation for the rise in credit card debt and bankruptcies. To evaluate this story, we develop a simple model that incorporates two key frictions: asymmetric information about borrowers’ risk of default and a fixed cost of developing each contract lenders offer. Innovations that ameliorate asymmetric information or reduce this fixed cost have large extensive margin effects via the entry of new lending contracts targeted at riskier borrowers. This results in more defaults and borrowing, and increased dispersion of interest rates. Using the Survey of Consumer Finances and Federal Reserve Board interest rate data, we find evidence supporting these predictions. Specifically, the dispersion of credit card interest rates nearly tripled while the “new” cardholders of the late 1980s and 1990s had riskier observable characteristics than existing cardholders. Our calculation suggest these new cardholders accounted for over 25% of the rise in bank credit card debt and delinquencies between 1989 and 1998
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