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The Political Economy of the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis


Atif R. Mian


Princeton University - Department of Economics; Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; NBER

Amir Sufi


University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; NBER

Francesco Trebbi


University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

May 1, 2009

Chicago GSB Research Paper No. 08-17

Abstract:     
We examine the effects of constituent interests, special interests, and politician ideology on congressional voting behavior on two of the most significant pieces of legislation in U.S. economic history: the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 and the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Representatives from districts experiencing an increase in mortgage default rates are more likely to vote in favor of the AHRFPA, and the response is stronger in more competitive districts. Representatives only respond to mortgage related defaults (not non-mortgage defaults), and are more sensitive to defaults of their own-party constituents. Higher campaign contributions from the financial services industry are associated with an increased likelihood of voting in favor of the EESA, a bill which transfers wealth from tax payers to the financial services industry. Examining the trade-off between ideology and economic incentives, we find that conservative politicians are less responsive to both constituent and special interests. This latter finding suggests that politicians, through ideology, can commit against intervention even during severe crises.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 47

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Date posted: November 4, 2008 ; Last revised: June 2, 2009

Suggested Citation

Mian, Atif R. and Sufi, Amir and Trebbi, Francesco, The Political Economy of the U.S. Mortgage Default Crisis (May 1, 2009). Chicago GSB Research Paper No. 08-17. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1291524 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1291524

Contact Information

Atif R. Mian
Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States
Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States
NBER
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Amir Sufi (Contact Author)
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
NBER
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Francesco Trebbi
University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )
997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada
HOME PAGE: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/ftrebbi/
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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