Why Cyclicality Matters to Access to Mortgage Credit
Patricia A. McCoy
Boston College Law School
Susan M. Wachter
University of Pennsylvania - Wharton School, Department of Real Estate
December 31, 2016
Boston College Journal of Law and Social Justice, Vol. XVII, Forthcoming
Virtually no attention has been paid to the problem of cyclicality in debates over access to mortgage credit, despite its importance as a driver of tight credit. Housing markets are prone to booms accompanied by bubbles in mortgage credit in which lenders cut underwriting standards, leading to elevated loan defaults. During downturns, these cycles artificially impede access to mortgage credit for underserved communities. During upswings, these cycles make homeownership unnecessarily precarious for many who attain it. This volatility exacerbates wealth and income disparities by ethnicity and race.
The boom-bust cycle must be addressed in order to assure healthy and sustainable access to credit for creditworthy borrowers. While the inherent cyclicality of the housing finance market cannot be fully eliminated, it can be mitigated to some extent. Mitigation is possible because housing market cycles are financed by and fueled by debt. Policymakers have begun to develop a suite of countercyclical tools to help iron out the peaks and troughs of the residential mortgage market. In this article, we discuss why access to credit is intrinsically linked to cyclicality and canvass possible techniques to modulate the extremes in those cycles.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 42
Keywords: Countercyclical Regulation, Housing Bubbles, Credit Bubbles, Access to Mortgage Credit
JEL Classification: D18, D31, E32, G01, G21, G23, G28, K22, L85, O16, R21, R28, R31, R38
Date posted: January 4, 2017