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The Financial Accelerator: Evidence from the International Housing Markets

Authors: Almeida, Heitor
Campello, Murillo
Liu, Crocker
Keywords: Financial contracting;nancial accelerator;housing prices;collateral constraint;income constraint
Issue Date: 18-Oct-2005
Series/Report no.: FIN-06-017
Abstract: This paper shows novel evidence on the mechanism through which financial constraints amplify uctuations in asset prices and credit demand. It does so using contractual features of housing finance. Among agents whose housing demand is constrained by the availability of collateral, those who can borrow against a larger fraction of their housing value (achieve a higher loan-to-value, or LTV, ratio) have more procyclical debt capacity. This procyclicality underlies the nancial accelerator mechanism described by Stein (1995) and Bernanke et al. (1996). Our study uses international variation in maximum LTV ratios over three decades to test whether (a) housing prices and (b) demand for new mortgage borrowings are more sensitive to income shocks in countries where households can achieve higher LTV ratios. The results we obtain are consistent with the dynamics of a collateral-based financial accelerator in housing markets.
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