June 2012 issue contents
Estimated Impact of the Federal Reserve's Mortgage-Backed Securities Purchase Program

by Johannes Stroebel and John B. Taylor
Stanford University


The largest credit or liquidity program created by the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis was the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) purchase program. In this paper, we examine the quantitative impact of this program on mortgage interest rate spreads. This is more difficult than frequently perceived because of simultaneous changes in prepayment risk and default risk. Our empirical results attribute a sizable portion of the decline in mortgage rates to such risks and a relatively small and uncertain portion to the program. For specifications where the existence or announcement of the program appears to have lowered spreads, we find no separate effect of the stock of MBS purchased by the Federal Reserve.

JEL Codes: E52, E58, G01.

Full article (PDF, 42 pages 629 kb)