Dissertation Defense: Franco Zecchetto
Tuesday, May 9 at 10:00am to 12:00pm
Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center, 550 37th and O St., N.W., Washington
Candidate Name: Franco Zecchetto
Advisor: Pedro Gete, Ph.D.
Title: Essays in Household Finance and Macroeconomics
In the first chapter, we analyze the removal of the credit-risk guarantees provided by the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) in a model with agents heterogeneous in income and house price risk. We find that wealth inequality increases, driven by higher mortgage spreads and housing rents. Housing holdings become more concentrated. Foreclosures fall. The removal benefits high-income households while hurting low and mid-income households (renters and highly leveraged mortgagors with conforming loans). GSE reform requires compensating transfers, sufficiently high elasticity of rental supply, or linking GSE reform with the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction.
In the second chapter, we show that the structure of the mortgage system is a key determinant of the intensity of a liquidity trap. Mortgage recourse systems, by discouraging default and debt-reductions, magnify the impact of nominal rigidities and cause deeper and more persistent recessions in the presence of long-term debt. We study a quantitative model with agents heterogeneous in idiosyncratic income and housing values. Following a collapse of house prices, non-recourse mortgages generate spikes in foreclosures as leveraged low-income households default on their mortgages. This leads to wealth redistribution towards the households with a higher marginal propensity to consume, and to a faster recovery in aggregate consumption which mitigates wage norms and the zero lower bound. Recourse mortgages can account for 25% of the difference in recovery between the U.S. (mostly non-recourse country) and Spain (recourse country).
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