Predatory borrowing?

From Luigi Zingales:

In fact, the authors find that more than 6% of mortgage loans misreport the borrower’s occupancy status, while 7% do not disclose second liens.

…The authors provide some interesting evidence in this context. They show, for example, that the misrepresentation is correlated with higher defaults down the line: delinquent payments on misreported loans are more than 60% higher than on loans that are otherwise similar. Thus, the errors do not seem to be random, but purposeful.

What the authors do not find is also interesting. The degree of misrepresentation seems to be unrelated to the incentives provided to the top management and to the quality of risk-management practices inside these firms. In fact, all reputable intermediaries in their sample exhibit a significant degree of misrepresentation. Thus, the problem does not seem to be limited to a few bad apples, but is pervasive.

Here is more, and here are comments from Arnold Kling, who has extensive experience in this area:
 I cannot tell whether the borrowers defrauded the lenders or the lenders defrauded the investors who bought the loans. I always presume that it is the borrower instigating the fraud. However, Zingales says that the bankers should be prosecuted. He makes it sound as if the lenders would record a loan internally as backed by an investment property and report it to investors as an owner-occupied home. That would require a much more complex conspiratorial action on the part of the lender, and until I learn otherwise, I will doubt that it happened.


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