Mortgage Debt

Failure to Launch: Housing, Debt Overhang, and the Inflation Option During the Great Recession

Can inflating away nominal mortgage liabilities cure debt overhang and combat a severe housing bust? With a focus on the Great Recession, I address this question using a structural macroeconomic model of illiquid housing, endogenous credit supply, and equilibrium default. First, I show that the model successfully replicates and provides insight into the dynamics of the U.S. economy since 2006. Second, I show that temporarily raising the inflation target would have cut foreclosures by over 60% and led to a more robust recovery in real economic variables.

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