The Long Shadows of the Great Inflation: Evidence from Residential Mortgages

81 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2020

See all articles by Matthew J. Botsch

Matthew J. Botsch

Bowdoin College

Ulrike Malmendier

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Date Written: June 2020

Abstract

A major puzzle in financial contracting is consumers' aversion to adjustable rates. In the mortgage market, the empirical mix of contracts (80% fixed-rate) is inconsistent with standard life-cycle consumption models. We argue that these choices reflect the longlasting effect of the Great Inflation, and have sizable welfare implications. First, we show that consumers who have experienced higher inflation expect higher future interest-rate increases, which explains their preference for fixed-rate financing. Next, we quantify the influence of personal inflation experiences on mortgage financing using linked data from the Census Bureau's Residential Finance Survey. We estimate a discrete-choice model over mortgage financing alternatives. The structural parameters indicate that one additional percentage point of experienced inflation increases a borrower's willingness to pay for a fixed-rate mortgage by 6 to 14 basis points, compared to the adjustable-rate alternative in a given origination year. This experience effect has a major impact on the product mix of FRMs versus ARMs: Nearly one in seven households would switch to an ARM if not for the longlasting effect of personal inflation experiences. Our simulations suggest that households who would otherwise have switched pay $8,000-$16,000 in year-2000, after-tax dollars for the embedded inflation protection of the FRM.

Keywords: behavioral finance, Contract choice, household finance, Inflation expectations, Mortgage Choice

JEL Classification: D14, D83, D84, D91, E31, G41, G51

Suggested Citation

Botsch, Matthew J. and Malmendier, Ulrike, The Long Shadows of the Great Inflation: Evidence from Residential Mortgages (June 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14934, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3638038

Matthew J. Botsch (Contact Author)

Bowdoin College ( email )

Brunswick, ME 04011
United States

Ulrike Malmendier

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
(510) 642-8724 (Phone)
(510) 642-6615 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/~ulrike/

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos/index_html?key=918

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
1
Abstract Views
134
PlumX Metrics