My long-term research agenda looks to study housing and consumer debt markets (including mortgage loans, student debt and credit card borrowing) with the objective of improving market design and policy making. I draw on methods from industrial organization to examine household debt markets that are understudied relative to their economic importance. Consumer loans collectively represent an enormous quantity of debt in the United States: in 2021 household debt reached $14.6 trillion, about 68% of gross domestic product.

Working papers

The Roles of Borrower Private Information and Mortgage Relief Design in Foreclosure Prevention
(Job Market Paper)
New version uploaded on November 15, 2023. Primary changes relate to robustness (Section 6) and welfare analysis (Section 7).

Abstract: I study frictions that prevent banks and loan servicers from granting debt relief to struggling borrowers in the U.S. residential mortgage market. I contribute to a growing literature on selection markets in industrial organization by exploring how asymmetric information, transaction costs, and aid generosity associated with granting debt relief affect mortgage foreclosure outcomes. To disentangle these mechanisms, I introduce a structural model in which banks decide whether to offer debt relief to potentially distressed borrowers when processing relief is costly and borrowers hold private information about their financial well-being. Relative to full information, banks reduce the probability of granting relief to deter financially healthy borrowers from pretending to be distressed, leading to more foreclosures in equilibrium. I use my model to estimate the impact of the Federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) using the outcomes of mortgages that were originated before the 2008 financial crisis. I find that HAMP incentive payments offset bank costs enough to increase relief disbursement and to decrease realized foreclosures by 3%, or 200,000 properties nationally, over the decade from 2007 to 2016. Despite this, information frictions increased total foreclosures by 14%, or the equivalent of 1.1 million properties and $110 billion of lost value over the same time period. Finally, I find that the level of borrower relief prescribed under HAMP was insufficient for preventing 86% of foreclosures, highlighting the extent of borrower distress arising during 2008. Beyond malpractice in mortgage origination, my findings illustrate how debt relief design and the financial intermediary behavior contributed to the widespread occurrence of foreclosure in the United States.

Regulation and market structure: An investigation of Airbnb’s decline in San Francisco
Undergoing major revisions Fall 2023

Abstract: This paper explores the effects of municipal regulations of home-sharing websites on market structure and prices. I build on existing theoretical work on peer-to-peer markets  to explain why entry regulation increases concentration and prices by disproportionately driving low capacity suppliers to exit. I then study the 2018 enforcement of regulations in San Francisco following the city's settlement with Airbnb using a difference-in-differences (DD) approach. I find that single-listing hosts are 19.7 percent less likely to list following regulation compared to a 7.8 percent decline for multi-listing hosts. I also find that nightly pre-tax prices increase by $9.25 and cleaning fees rise by $1.91.

Work in progress

Targeting Aid During a Crisis: Speed, Selection, and Subsidy Design, with Jori Barash

Abstract: In times of crisis, means-tested government programs sometimes relax eligibility standards to deliver aid faster. With adverse selection and less time to screen beneficiaries, relaxed eligibility may increase expenditure on non-targeted populations and decrease pass-through to households from private intermediaries, with both mechanisms lowering efficacy. The tradeoff between speed and eligibility standards is motivated by the relatively untested premise that faster delivery meaningfully improves outcomes. This paper shows that timely subsidized modification of distressed mortgages could have further reduced U.S. foreclosures in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. We exploit a simulated instrument based on the spatial distribution of financial shocks. Using a dynamic structural model of servicers' modification and foreclosure choices, we characterize how the optimal modification subsidy varies with time from delinquency, servicer volume, and market conditions.

Borrower composition, servicing behavior and state-level regulation in the U.S. foreclosure crisis