Essays on Housing Markets and Monetary Policy

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Virginia Tech

This dissertation consists of three essays on housing markets and monetary policy. The first essay focuses on the impact of monetary policy on U.S. local housing markets and finds that monetary policy has uneven impacts on local housing markets, and that the magnitude of the impacts are correlated with housing supply regulations. The second essay studies the optimal interest rate rule in a DSGE model with housing market spillovers and finds that the optimal interest rate rule responds to house price inflation even when the stabilization of house price is not among the objectives of the policymaker.

The third essay is the core of this dissertation. I construct a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model in this paper to study the fluctuations in the U.S. housing markets. The model features a market for newly built houses, a secondary market for old houses, and an endogenous term structure of nominal interest rates. Negative technological progress in the housing sector explains the upward trend in house prices over the past four decades. Housing preference and technology innovations explain about 80% of the volatility of housing investment, real price of new houses, and the old-to-new house price ratio. Monetary factors explain about 15% of the volatility of housing investment, but do not significantly contribute to the price fluctuations of either new or old houses. The preference innovation to old houses is the leading determinant of the run-up in the price of old houses relative to the price of new houses during the 10-year period before the Great Recession. The term structure is endogenous in this paper, and the intertemporal preference innovation makes a non-negligible contribution to the variations in nominal interest rates. Housing market conditions do not contribute much to the fluctuations of interest rates, but significantly affect the shape of the yield curve.

Housing Markets, Monetary Policy, DSGE Models