Mortgage Supply and the US Housing Boom: The Role of the Community Reinvestment Act
This paper studies the role of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in the recent US housing boom-bust cycle. Using a difference-in-differences matching estimation, I find that the enhancement of CRA enforcement in 1998 caused a 7.7 percentage points increase in annual growth rate of mortgage lending by CRA-regulated banks to CRA-eligible census tracts relative to a group of similar-income CRA-ineligible census tracts within the same state. Financial institutions which are not subject to the CRA, however, do not show any change in their mortgage supply between these two types of census tracts after 1998. I take advantage of this exogenous shift in mortgage supply within an instrumental variable framework to identify the causal effect of mortgage supply on housing prices. I find that every 1 percentage point higher annual growth rate of mortgage supply leads to 0.3 percentage points higher annual growth rate of housing prices. Reduced form regressions show that CRA-eligible neighborhoods experienced higher house price growth during the boom and sharper decline during the bust period. I use placebo tests to confirm that this effect is in fact channeled through the shift in mortgage supply by CRA-regulated banks and not by unobserved demand factors. Furthermore, my results indicate that CRA-induced mortgages went to borrowers with lower FICO scores, carried higher interest rates, and encountered more frequent delinquencies.
Public Bank Guarantees and Allocative Efficiency
IWH Discussion Papers,
In the wake of the recent financial crisis, many governments extended public guarantees to banks. We take advantage of a natural experiment, in which long-standing public guarantees were removed for a set of German banks following a lawsuit, to identify the real effects of these guarantees on the allocation of credit (“allocative efficiency”). Using matched bank/firm data, we find that public guarantees reduce allocative efficiency. With guarantees in place, poorly performing firms invest more and maintain higher rates of sales growth. Moreover, firms produce less efficiently in the presence of public guarantees. Consistently, we show that guarantees reduce the likelihood that firms exit the market. These findings suggest that public guarantees hinder restructuring activities and prevent resources to flow to the most productive uses.