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A Narrative Analysis of Mortgage Asset Purchases by Federal Agencies

Andrew J. Fieldhouse, Karel Mertens

NBER Working Paper No. 23165
Issued in February 2017, Revised in July 2017
NBER Program(s):Monetary Economics

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 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 ‘non-cyclically motivated.’ The results of the narrative analysis of federal housing credit policy changes yield a record of events that can be used as an instrumental variable for agency purchase activity.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23165

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