NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Andreas Fuster

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Working Papers

August 2013The Endowment Effect
with Keith M. Marzilli Ericson: w19384
The endowment effect is among the best known findings in behavioral economics, and has been used as evidence for theories of reference-dependent preferences and loss aversion. However, a recent literature has questioned the robustness of the effect in the laboratory, as well as its relevance in the field. In this review, we provide a summary of the evidence, and describe recent theoretical developments that can potentially reconcile the different findings, with a focus on expectation-based reference points. We also survey recent work from psychology that provides either alternatives to or refinements of the usual loss aversion explanation. We argue that loss aversion is still the leading paradigm for understanding the endowment effect, but that given the rich psychology behind the effect, ...
Payment Size, Negative Equity, and Mortgage Default
with Paul S. Willen: w19345
Surprisingly little is known about the importance of mortgage payment size for default, as efforts to measure the treatment effect of rate increases or loan modifications are confounded by borrower selection. We study a sample of hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages that have experienced large rate reductions over the past years and are largely immune to these selection concerns. We show that interest rate reductions dramatically affect repayment behavior, even for borrowers who are significantly underwater on their mortgages. Our estimates imply that cutting a borrower’s payment in half reduces his hazard of becoming delinquent by about 55 percent, an effect approximately equivalent to lowering the borrower’s combined loan-to-value ratio from 145 to 95 (holding the payment fixed). These findi...
August 2011Natural Expectations, Macroeconomic Dynamics, and Asset Pricing
with Benjamin Hebert, David Laibson: w17301
How does an economy behave if (1) fundamentals are truly hump-shaped, exhibiting momentum in the short run and partial mean reversion in the long run, and (2) agents do not know that fundamentals are hump-shaped and base their beliefs on parsimonious models that they fit to the available data? A class of parsimonious models leads to qualitatively similar biases and generates empirically observed patterns in asset prices and macroeconomic dynamics. First, parsimonious models will robustly pick up the short-term momentum in fundamentals but will generally fail to fully capture the long-run mean reversion. Beliefs will therefore be characterized by endogenous extrapolation bias and pro-cyclical excess optimism. Second, asset prices will be highly volatile and exhibit partial mean reversion—i....
March 2010Insuring Consumption Using Income-Linked Assets
with Paul S. Willen: w15829
Shiller (2003) and others have argued for the creation of financial instruments that allow individuals to insure risks associated with their lifetime labor income. In this paper, we argue that while the purpose of such assets is to smooth consumption across states of nature, one must also consider the assets' effects on households' ability to smooth consumption over time. We show that consumers in a realistically calibrated life-cycle model would generally prefer income-linked loans (with a rate positively correlated with income shocks) to an income-hedging instrument (a limited liability asset whose returns correlate negatively with income shocks) even though the assets offer identical opportunities to smooth consumption across states. While for some parameterizations of our model the wel...

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