Alejandro Justiniano, Giorgio Primiceri, Andrea Tambalotti, 31 October 2017

The US witnessed an unprecedented boom in mortgage debt and house prices in the early 2000s, which precipitated the crisis in 2007. This column documents a sudden, large and persistent fall in the spread of mortgage over Treasury rates in the summer of 2003. It argues that the emergence of this ‘conundrum’ marked a crucial turning point in the dynamics of the boom, with the resulting easier credit conditions in the subprime market in particular leading to the origination of mortgages that defaulted progressively more frequently down the road.

CEPR Policy Research