Kristina Bluwstein, Michał Brzoza-Brzezina, Paolo Gelain, Marcin Kolasa, 07 December 2020

Transmission of monetary policy depends to a large extent on the phase of the housing cycle. This is because residential property prices are important determinants of banks’ willingness to lend. This column presents analysis for the US which shows that in the mature phase of the housing market boom, or immediately after a bust began, the effects of a monetary expansion were smaller than they were earlier in the housing cycle. This is relevant for central banks which are considering responding to the Covid-19 pandemic by easing monetary policy during a period of relatively high house prices.

Lena Edlund, Cecilia Machado, 27 June 2020

The urban renewal that transformed many US inner cities may have hit its first major speed bump with the outbreak of Covid-19. The ‘space versus commute’ trade-off has been thrown into doubt and confusion by work-from-home orders. This column draws on socioeconomic history, arguing that a mass exodus of skilled professionals to the suburbs could have major implications for inner city areas. Although this could spell the return to the homicidal days of the 1980s, the authors argue that this may not be the case – the reason being: cell phones and how they have impacted illicit drug retailing.

Marijn Bolhuis, Judd N. L. Cramer, 02 April 2020

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on public health will have major repercussions for the global economy, impacting trends in many different sectors. This column uses detailed neighbourhood-level data to evaluate the impact of demographic changes on different segments of the US housing market. As larger homes (and those in neighbourhoods with relatively more baby boomers) lag behind the broader market in terms of price growth, they also appear increasingly difficult to sell. In the wake of COVID-19, a large share of the US population is at risk of taking a substantial hit to their asset portfolio, just as they retire.

Martin Eichenbaum, Sérgio Rebelo, Arlene Wong, 02 December 2018

Mortgage rate systems vary in practice across countries, and understanding the impact of these differences is critical to the design of optimal monetary policy. This column focuses on the US, where most mortgages have a fixed interest rate and no prepayment penalties, and demonstrates that the efficacy of monetary policy is state dependent, varying in a systematic way with the pool of potential savings from refinancing. As refinancing costs decline, the effects of monetary policy become less state dependent.

Jane Kelly, Julia Le Blanc, Reamonn Lydon, 25 November 2018

Loan-to-value limits and other borrower-based macroprudential measures are now used in two-thirds of advanced economies. This column uses survey data to document changes in credit standards in a cross-section of countries in the run-up to, and aftermath of, the financial crisis. There is clear evidence of laxer credit standards in countries that experienced a real estate boom-bust, and a significant tightening after the bust. The results imply that compared to earlier years, younger and lower-income borrowers have to save for longer before buying.

William Wheaton, 26 September 2010

Recent estimates suggest as many as 23% of US mortgages are “underwater” –the value of the home collateralising the mortgage has fallen below the loan’s balance. This column outlines a proposal to remove the threat of strategic default in these cases – one that it argues is not only fair but also the most likely to allow the US housing market to recover.

CEPR Policy Research