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Did Consumers Want Less Debt? Consumer Credit Demand versus Supply in the Wake of the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis

We explore the sources of household balance sheet adjustment following the collapse of the housing market in 2006. First, we use microdata from the Federal Reserve Board’s Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey to document that banks cumulatively tightened consumer lending standards more in counties that experienced a house price boom in the mid-2000s than in non-boom counties. We then use the idea that renters, unlike homeowners, did not experience an adverse wealth shock when the housing market collapsed to examine the relative importance of two explanations for the observed deleveraging and the sluggish pickup in consumption after 2008. First, households may have optimally adjusted to lower wealth by reducing their demand for debt and implicitly, their demand for consumption. Alternatively, banks may have been more reluctant to lend in areas with pronounced real estate declines. Our evidence is consistent with the second explanation. Renters with low risk scores, compared to homeowners in the same markets, reduced their levels of nonmortgage debt and credit card debt more in counties where house prices fell more. The contrast suggests that the observed reductions in aggregate borrowing were more driven by cutbacks in the provision of credit than by a demand-based response to lower housing wealth.

31. January 2014

Authors Reint E. Gropp J. Krainer E. Laderman

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Deleveraging and Consumer Credit Supply in the Wake of the 2008–09 Financial Crisis

Reint E. Gropp J. Krainer E. Laderman

in: International Journal of Central Banking, No. 3, 2019

Abstract

We explore the sources of the decline in household nonmortgage debt following the collapse of the housing market in 2006. First, we use data from the Federal Reserve Board's Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey to document that, post-2006, banks tightened consumer lending standards more in counties that experienced a more pronounced house price decline (the pre-2006 "boom" counties). We then use the idea that renters did not experience an adverse wealth or collateral shock when the housing market collapsed to identify a general consumer credit supply shock. Our evidence suggests that a tightening of the supply of non-mortgage credit that was independent of the direct effects of lower housing collateral values played an important role in households' non-mortgage debt reduction. Renters decreased their non-mortgage debt more in boom counties than in non-boom counties, but homeowners did not. We argue that this wedge between renters and homeowners can only have arisen from a general tightening of banks' consumer lending stance. Using an IV approach, we trace this effect back to a reduction in bank capital of banks in boom counties.

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