The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
In housing crises, high mortgage debt can feed a vicious circle of falling housing prices and declining consumption and incomes, leading to higher mortgage defaults and deeper recessions. In such situations, resolution policies may need to be adapted to help contain negative feedback loops while minimizing overall loan losses and moral hazard. Drawing on recent experiences from Iceland, Ireland, Spain, and the United States, this paper discusses how economic trade-offs affecting mortgage resolution differ in crises. Depending on country circumstances, the economic benefits of temporary forbearance and loan modifications for struggling households could outweigh their costs.