Mastering the metropolis through research and thought leadership.
Working Papers

The Housing Bubble

Working paper #717
Adam J. Levitin and Susan M. Wachter

There is little consensus as to the cause of the housing bubble that precipitated the financial crisis of 2008. Numerous explanations exist: misguided monetary policy; a global savings surplus; government policies encouraging affordable homeownership; irrational consumer expectations of rising housing prices; inelastic housing supply. None of these explanations, however, is capable of fully explaining the housing bubble.

This paper posits a new explanation for the housing bubble. First it demonstrates that the bubble was a supply-side phenomenon, attributable to an excess of mispriced mortgage finance: mortgage finance spreads declined and volume increased, even as risk increased, a confluence attributable only to an oversupply of mortgage finance. Second, it explains the mortgage finance supply glut as resulting from markets failing to price risk correctly due to the complexity, opacity, and heterogeneity of the unregulated private-label mortgage-backed securities (PLS) that began to dominate the market in 2004. The paper proposes the standardization of PLS as an information-forcing device. Reducing the complexity and heterogeneity of PLS would facilitate accurate risk pricing, which is necessary to rebuild a sustainable, stable housing finance market.

Download full paper · 2MB PDF


In This Section
Explore Topics

1010 Affordable Housing Amazon Amenitization Architecture Artificial Intelligence Asia Australia automation Autonomous Vehicles bonds Borrowing Constraints Brexit California Canada Capital Business China Co-Working Environment coastal markets cold storage Colombia Commercial Brokerage Commercial Real Estate commissions Congestion consumer bias covid-19 CRE credit card market Credit Default Swaps Credit Insurance Credit Risk Transfers Culture Data Analytics data centers Data Collection Technology Debt Market Demand Demographics Density Development Discrete Choice disruption Diversity drones e-Commerce Economic Corridors economic policy economics education election studies Equity Funds Equity Market Ethnic Factors Europe Fannie Mae financial asset management Foreclosures Foreign Policy France Freddie Mac general equilibrium Global global economy Global Financial Crisis Globalization great depression Great Recession healthy buildings Hedonic hospitality Housing & Residential housing boom Housing Disease housing prices Housing Supply Identity Income Inequality India inflation Inter-generational mobility interest rates Investing jobs labor market Lagging Regions land use regulation Language life sciences Macroeconomics malls Market Pricing megacities Microeconomics Migration Minimum Payments Mixed-Use Mobility moral hazard mortgage insurance mortgage market Mortgage Rates Mortgages Multi-family Nation Building Non-Traditional Mortgages Office Market office sector pension funds Placed Based Policies Political Risk Price Discovery Private Equity Business public health public policy Public Schools real estate brokerage Real Estate Investment Real Estate Investment Trusts Recession Rental Retail Retirement reverse mortgages Risk Adjustment risk management risk-shifting robotics single family housing Slums Sorting South America Spatial Regions spillover effect stimulus package Sub-Prime Mortgages Sustainability Technology telecommunications trade transportation unemployment United States Urban Urbanization Warehouse welfare work from home

arrow_drop_up