Loan Originations and Defaults in the Mortgage Crisis: The Role of the Middle Class

51 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2015 Last revised: 3 Feb 2015

See all articles by Manuel Adelino

Manuel Adelino

Duke University; Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Antoinette Schoar

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Felipe Severino

Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business

Date Written: January 2015

Abstract

We provide new facts on the debt dynamics leading up to the financial crisis of 2007. Earlier research suggests that distortions in the supply of mortgage credit, evidenced by a decoupling of credit flow from income growth, may have caused the rise in house prices and the subsequent housing market collapse. This paper shows that the increase in mortgage originations was shared across the whole distribution of borrowers, and that middle- and high-income borrowers made up the majority of originations even at the peak of the boom. Compared to prior years, middle- and high-income borrowers (not the poor), as well as those with medium and high credit scores, made up a much larger share of delinquencies in the crisis relative to earlier years. We show that the relation between individual mortgage size and income growth during the housing boom was always strongly positive, also in line with previous periods (and independent of how income is measured). These results are most consistent with an expectations based view of the financial crisis in which both homebuyers and lenders were buying into increasing housing values and defaulted once prices dropped.

Suggested Citation

Adelino, Manuel and Schoar, Antoinette and Severino, Felipe, Loan Originations and Defaults in the Mortgage Crisis: The Role of the Middle Class (January 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20848. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2551656

Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Antoinette Schoar

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

50 Memorial Drive, E52-447
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-3763 (Phone)
617-258-6855 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Felipe Severino

Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~fseverino

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