My research interests are in macroeconomic policy and applied macroeconomics, recently focusing on U.S. federal housing credit policy and government interventions in mortgage markets.

Working Papers

The Macroeconomic Effects of Government Asset Purchases: Evidence from Postwar US Housing Credit Policy (July 2017), joint with Karel Mertens and Morten O. Ravn, NBER Working Paper No. 23154. Latest slidesVoxEU column.

We document the portfolio activity of federal housing agencies and provide evidence on its impact on mortgage markets and the economy. Through a narrative analysis, we identify historical policy changes leading to expansions or contractions in agency mortgage holdings. Based on those regulatory events that we classify as unrelated to short-run cyclical or credit market shocks, we find that an increase in mortgage purchases by the agencies boosts mortgage lending and lowers mortgage rates. Agency purchases influence prices in other asset markets and stimulate residential investment. Using information in GSE stock prices to construct an alternative instrument for agency purchasing activity yields very similar results as our benchmark narrative identification approach.

A Narrative Analysis of Mortgage Asset Purchases by Federal Agencies (July 2017), joint with Karel Mertens, NBER Working Paper No. 23165. Online appendix.

This paper provides a narrative analysis of regulatory policy changes affecting the purchases and holdings of mortgages and related securities of five US government entities over the 1968–2014 period. We focus on federal government policies that aim to influence the allocation and/or volume of the supply of residential mortgage credit. We use contemporary primary sources and various institutional histories to identify significant policy interventions, to document their economic and regulatory context, surrounding motives, and pertinent timing, as well as to quantify projected impacts on agencies’ mortgage holdings. Finally, we classify each significant policy change as either “cyclically motivated” or “unrelated to the business and/or financial cycle.”

 Research Awards

L.R. “Red” Wilson MA ‘67 Excellence in Economics Medal: $5,000 research fund prize