Bankruptcy Law and The Cost of Credit: The Impact of Cramdown on Mortgage Interest Rates

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Bankruptcy Law and The Cost of Credit: The Impact of Cramdown on Mortgage Interest Rates

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Title: Bankruptcy Law and The Cost of Credit: The Impact of Cramdown on Mortgage Interest Rates
Author: Goodman, Joshua Samuel; Levitin, Adam Jeremiah

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Goodman, Joshua, and Adam Levitin. 2012. Bankruptcy Law and The Cost of Credit: The Impact of Cramdown on Mortgage Interest Rates. HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series RWP12-037, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
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Abstract: The role of bankruptcy law in credit markets has received renewed attention in the aftermath of the housing bubble collapse. The fundamental challenge for research on this topic is to separate the impact of legal factors from other features of the credit environment. We do so by exploiting historical variation in federal judicial rulings regarding whether Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers could reduce the principal owed on a home loan to the home’s market value. The practice, known as cramdown, was definitively prohibited by the Supreme Court in 1993. We find evidence that home loans closed during the time when cramdown was allowed had interest rates 10-20 basis points higher than loans closed in the same state when cramdown was not allowed, which translates to a roughly 1-2 percent increase in monthly payments. Consistent with the theory that lenders are pricing in the risk of principal modification, interest rate increases are higher for the riskiest borrowers and zero for the least risky, as well as higher in states where Chapter 13 filing is more common. Though the price of credit rises slightly, we find no evidence of a change in the quantity of credit provided. The relatively small impacts of cramdown on the cost of credit suggests that the insurance benefits of bankruptcy may be relatively inexpensive.
Published Version: http://web.hks.harvard.edu/publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=8513
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9403179
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