Sunday, January 4, 2015

4/1/2015: Homeownership, House Prices and Entrepreneurship

Two papers on related topics, the link between enterprise formation and homeownership/mortgages. In the past, I wrote quite a bit about various studies covering these, especially within the context of negative equity impact of reducing entrepreneurship and funding for start ups.

In the first paper, Bracke, Philippe and Hilber, Christian A. L. and Silva, Olmo, "study the link between homeownership, mortgage debt, and entrepreneurship using a model of occupational choice and housing tenure where homeowners commit to mortgage payments."

The paper, titled "Homeownership and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Mortgage Debt and Commitment" (CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5048: finds that, from theoretical model perspective, "as long as mortgage rates exceed the rate of interest on liquid wealth [short-term bonds, deposits etc - and this usually is the case in all markets]:

  1. mortgage debt, by amplifying risk aversion, diminishes the likelihood that homeowners start a business; 
  2. the negative relation between mortgage debt and entrepreneurship is more pronounced when income volatility is higher; and
  3. the relation between housing wealth and entrepreneurship is ambiguously signed because of competing portfolio and hedging considerations. 

Empirical analysis by the authors "confirm these predictions. A one standard deviation increase in leverage makes a homeowner 10-12 percent less likely to become an entrepreneur."

So back to negative equity. Negative equity is significantly increasing leverage taken on by the borrower. For example: original mortgage with LTV of 75% set against property price decline of 10% generates leverage increase of 8.3 percentage points. In Irish case, same mortgage (in Dublin case) brought back to current valuations of the property from the peak prices pre-crisis implies a leverage increase of, roughly, 50 percentage points, which is, roughly an increase of 12 standard deviations.

The second study is by Jensen, Thais Laerkholm and Leth‐Petersen, Søren and Nanda, Ramana, titled "Housing Collateral, Credit Constraints and Entrepreneurship - Evidence from a Mortgage Reform" (CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP10260: The paper looks at "how a mortgage reform that exogenously increased access to credit had an impact on entrepreneurship, using individual-level micro data from Denmark."

The authors find that "a $30,000 increase in credit availability led to a 12 basis point increase in entrepreneurship, equivalent to a 4% increase in the number of entrepreneurs. New entrants were more likely to start businesses in sectors where they had no prior experience, and were more likely to fail than those who did not benefit from the reform."

What does this mean? "Our results provide evidence that credit constraints do affect entrepreneurship, but that the overall magnitudes are small. Moreover, the marginal individuals selecting into entrepreneurship when constraints are relaxed may well be starting businesses that are of lower quality than the average existing businesses, leading to an increase in churning entry that does not translate into a sustained increase in the overall level of entrepreneurship."

So the study basically shows that mortgage credit constraints in Denmark are not highly important in determining the rate of successful entrepreneurship. But the study covers only intensive margin constraints - in other words it covers credit availability increases over and above normal operating credit markets. This does not help our understanding of what happens in the markets where credit constraints are severe. 

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