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Session 10: Financial Regulation

August 24-26, 2020, 8 am - 10 am PDT | August 27-28, 2020, 8 am - 11 am PDT
Organized by: 
  • Gregor Matvos, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management
  • Amit Seru, Stanford GSB

The conference covers research that relates to connections of regulation for intermediaries, households, firms and policymakers. This is the fourth in the sequence of the annual SITE conference on this topic. Presentations, like every year, are "seminar" style. This year, each paper has been matched to a moderator who will guide the discussion rather than just relay the questions from the audience to the presenter.

In this Session

Aug 24 | 8:00 am to 8:45 am

Wealth, Race, and Consumption Smoothing of Typical Income Shocks

Co-Author(s): Peter Ganong (University of Chicago), Damon Jones (University of Chicago), Pascal Noel (University of Chicago), Diana Farrell, Fiona Greig, and Chris Wheat (all JPMorgan Chase Institute)

Moderator: Sasha Indarte (Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania)

We study the consumption response to typical labor income shocks and investigate how these vary by wealth and race. First, we estimate the elasticity of consumption with respect to income using an instrument based on firm-wide changes in monthly pay. While much of the consumption-smoothing literature uses variation in unusual windfall income, this instrument captures the temporary income variation that households typically experience. In addition, because it can be constructed for every worker in every month, it allows for more precision than most previous estimates. We implement this approach in administrative bank account data and find an average elasticity of 0.23, with a standard error of 0.01. This increased precision also allows us to address an open question about the extent of heterogeneity by wealth in the elasticity. We find a much lower consumption response for high-liquidity households, which may help discipline structural consumption models.

Second, we use this instrument to study how wealth shapes racial inequality. An extensive body of work documents a substantial racial and ethnic wealth gap. However, less is known about how this gap translates into differences in welfare on a month-to-month basis. We combine our instrument for typical income volatility with a new dataset linking bank account data with race and Hispanicity. We find that black (Hispanic) households cut their consumption 50 (20) percent more than white households when faced with a similarly-sized income shock. Nearly all of this differential pass-through of income to consumption is explained in a statistical sense by differences in liquid wealth. Combining our empirical estimates with a model, we show that temporary income volatility has a substantial welfare cost for all groups. Because of racial disparities in consumption smoothing, the cost is at least 50 percent higher for black households and 20 percent higher for Hispanic households than it is for white households.

Aug 24 | 8:45 am to 9:00 am

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Aug 24 | 9:00 am to 9:45 am

How Costly is Noise? Data and Disparities in the US Mortgage Market

Co-Author(s): Laura Blattner (Stanford University) and Scott Nelson (University of Chicago)

Moderator: Tarun Ramodarai (Imperial College London)


Aug 24 | 9:45 am to 10:00 am

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Aug 25 | 8:00 am to 8:45 am

Heterogeneous Real Estate Agents and the Housing Cycle

Co-Author(s): Sonia Gilbukh (Baruch College) and Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham (Yale University)

Moderator: Julia Fonseca (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

The real estate market is highly intermediated, with 90 percent of buyers and sellers hiring an agent to help them transact a house. However, low barriers to entry and xed commission rates result in a market where inexperienced intermediaries have a large market share, especially following house price booms. Using rich micro-level data on 10.4 million listings, we rst show that houses listed for sale by inexperienced real estate agents have a lower probability of selling, and this eect is strongest during the housing bust. We then study the aggregate implications of the distribution of agents’ experience on housing market liquidity by building a dynamic entry and exit model of real estate agents with aggregate shocks. Several policies that raise the barriers to entry for agents are considered: 1) lower commission rates, 2) increased entry costs, and 3) more informed clients. Relative to the baseline, all three policies lead to an increase in average liquidity, with the largest eect during the bust.

Aug 25 | 8:45 am to 9:00 am

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Aug 25 | 9:00 am to 9:45 am

iBuyers: Liquidity in Real Estate Markets?

Co-Author(s): Greg Buchak (Stanford University), Gregor Matvos (Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management), Tomasz Piskorski (Columbia University) and Amit Seru (Stanford University)

Moderator: Adi Sunderam (Harvard University)

Aug 25 | 9:45 am to 10:00 am

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Aug 26 | 8:00 am to 8:45 am

Do Credit Conditions Move House Prices?

Co-Author(s): Daniel Greenwald (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Adam Guren (Boston University)

Moderator: Sophie Calder-Wang (Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania)

To what extent did an expansion and contraction of credit drive the 2000s housing boom and bust? The existing literature lacks consensus, with findings ranging from credit having no effect to credit driving most of the house price cycle. We show that the key difference behind these disparate results is the extent to which credit insensitive agents such as landlords and unconstrained savers absorb credit-driven demand, which depends on the degree of segmentation in housing markets. We develop a model with frictional rental markets that allows us to consider cases in between the extremes of no segmentation and perfect segmentation typically assumed in the literature. We argue that the relative elasticities of the price-to-rent ratio and homeownership with respect to an identified credit shock is a sufficient statistic to measure the degree of segmentation. We estimate this moment using three different credit supply instruments and use it to calibrate our model. Our results reveal that rental markets are highly frictional and close to fully segmented, which implies large effects of credit on house prices. In particular, changing credit conditions can explain between 28% and 47% of the rise in price-rent ratios over the boom.

Aug 26 | 8:45 am to 9:00 am

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Aug 26 | 9:00 am to 9:45 am

The Role of Intermediaries in Selection Markets: Evidence from Mortgage Lending

Co-Author(s): Robert Clark (Queen’s University) Jason Allen (Bank of Canada), Jean-François Houde (University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Anna Trubnikova (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Moderator: Claudia Robles-Garcia (Stanford University)

Aug 26 | 9:45 am to 10:00 am

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Aug 27 | 8:00 am to 8:45 am

Real Effects of Search Frictions in Consumer Credit Markets

Co-Author(s): Chris Palmer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Bronson Argyle and Taylor Nadauld (both Brigham Young University)

Moderator: Anthony Defusco (Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management)

We establish two underappreciated facts about costly search. First, unless demand is perfectly inelastic, search frictions can result in significant deadweight loss by decreasing consumption. Second, whenever cross-price elasticities are non-zero, costly search in one market also affects quantities in other markets. As predicted by our model of search for credit under elastic demand, we show that search frictions in credit markets contribute to price dispersion, affect loan sizes, and decrease final-goods consumption. Using microdata from millions of auto-loan applications and originations not intermediated by car dealers, we isolate plausibly exogenous variation in interest rates due to institution-specific pricing rules that price risk with step functions. These within-lender discontinuities lead to substantial variation in the benefits of search across lenders and distort extensive- and intensive-margin loan and car choices differentially in high- versus low-search-cost areas. Our results demonstrate real effects of the costliness of shopping for credit and the continued importance of local bank branches for borrower outcomes even in the mobile-banking era. More broadly, we conclude that costly search affects consumption in both primary and complementary markets.

Aug 27 | 8:45 am to 9:00 am

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Aug 27 | 9:00 am to 9:45 am

The Value of "New" and "Old" Intermediation in Online Debt Crowdfunding

Co-Author(s): Nicola Pavanini (Tilburg University), Fabio Braggion (Tilburg Univesity), Alberto Manconi (Bocconi University) and Haikun Zhu (Erasmus University)

Moderator: Matteo Benneton (University of California, Berkeley)

We study the welfare effects of the transition of online debt crowdfunding from the older “peer-to-peer” model to the “marketplace” model, where the crowdfunding platform sells diversified loan portfolios to investor. We develop an equilibrium model of debt crowdfunding capturing platform design (peer-to-peer or marketplace) and lender preferences over loan and portfolio product characteristics, and we estimate it on a novel database on credit at a large online platform based in China. Moving from the peer-to-peer to the marketplace model raises lender surplus, platform profits, and credit provision. At the same time, reducing lender exposure to liquidity risk can be beneficial. A counterfactual scenario where the platform resembles a bank by bearing liquidity risk has similar welfare properties as the marketplace model when liquidity is high, but results in larger lender surplus and credit provision, and only moderately lower platform profits, when liquidity is low.

Aug 27 | 9:45 am to 10:00 am

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Aug 27 | 10:00 am to 10:45 am

Conflicting Interests and the Effect of Fiduciary Duty: Evidence from Variable Annuities

Co-Author(s): Mark Egan (Harvard University), Shan Ge (New York University) and Johnny Tang (Harvard University)

Moderator: Ishita Sen (Harvard University)

Variable annuities are a popular retirement product with over $2 trillion in assets. We study what drives variable annuity sales. Insurers typically pay brokers a commission/kickback for selling variable annuities that range from 0% to over 10% of investors’ premium payments. Our results indicate that variable annuity sales are about three times more sensitive to brokers’ financial interests than investors’. Brokers earn higher commissions by selling higher-fee products. To help limit conflicts of interest, the Department of Labor proposed a rule in 2016 that would hold brokers to a fiduciary standard when dealing with retirement accounts. We find that after the proposed fiduciary rule, the sales of high-fee variable annuities fell by 50% as sales became more sensitive to fees and insurers increased the relative availability of low-fee products. Based on our estimation of a structural model, investor welfare improved as a result of the DOL fiduciary rule under conservative assumptions.

Aug 27 | 10:45 am to 11:00 am

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Aug 28 | 8:00 am to 8:45 am

The Passthrough of Treasury Supply to Bank Deposits

Co-Author(s): Yiming Ma (Columbia), Wenhao Li (USC) and Yang Zhao (Stanford)

Moderator: Erica Jiang (USC)

We demonstrate the passthrough of Treasury supply to deposit funding through bank market power. We show that an increase in Treasury supply leads to a net deposit outflow. At the same time, reliance on wholesale funding decreases. The effect is heterogeneous—banks in more competitive markets experience stronger deposit outflows. The explanatory power of Treasury supply is not driven by monetary policy and bank-specific investment opportunities. We rationalize our empirical findings with a model of imperfect deposit competition. Consistent with Drechsler, Savov and Schnabl (2017), the model and empirical evidence predict the opposite effect for monetary policy rate hikes: there is a larger response in less competitive markets.

Aug 28 | 8:45 am to 9:00 am

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Aug 28 | 9:00 am to 9:45 am

The Financial Origins of the Rise and Fall of American Inflation

Co-Author(s): Philipp Schnabl (NYU), Itamar Drechsler (Wharton) and Alexi Savov (NYU)

Moderator: Andreas Fuster (Swiss National Bank)

We propose and test a new explanation for the rise and fall of the Great Inflation, a defining event in macroeconomics. We argue that its rise was due to the imposition of binding deposit rate ceilings under the law known as Regulation Q, and that its fall was due to the removal of these ceilings once the law was repealed. Deposits were the dominant form of saving at the time, hence Regulation Q suppressed the return to saving. This drove up aggregate demand, which pushed up inflation and further lowered the real return to saving, setting off an inflation spiral. The repeal of Regulation Q broke the spiral by sending deposit rates sharply higher. We document that the rise and fall of the Great Inflation lines up closely with the imposition and repeal of Regulation Q and the enormous changes in deposit rates and quantities it produced. We further test this explanation in the cross section using detailed data on local deposit markets and inflation. By exploiting four different sources of geographic variation, we show that the degree to which Regulation Q was binding has a large impact on local inflation, consistent with the hypothesis that Regulation Q explains the observed variation in aggregate inflation. We conclude that in the presence of financial frictions the Fed may be unable to control inflation regardless of its policy rule.

Aug 28 | 9:45 am to 10:00 am

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Aug 28 | 10:00 am to 10:45 am

Credit Cycles with Market Based Household Leverage

Co-Author(s): William Diamond and Tim Landvoigt (both Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania)

Moderator: Emil Verner (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Aug 28 | 10:45 am to 11:00 am

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