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Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe: Editorial

This special issue expands on the existing research on foreign-currency lending and the forex loan crisis in Eastern Europe by investigating other forms of housing-related finance and post-crisis developments. Bringing together hitherto disparate strands of research, our issue traces the linkages between macroeconomic developments, state measures, class dynamics, and social movements in the aftermath of the forex loan crises in Latvia, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Hungary as part of their long-term trajectories of housing finance. We find that despite different political-institutional articulations, these trajectories all feature a new expansion of lending based on a bifurcation of the credit market into more secure, often subsidised mortgage lending aimed at better-off debtors and more risky non-mortgage loans used for housing purposes by more precarious households.

25.6.2022 | Ágnes Gagyi, Marek Mikuš | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 39-47 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.539
Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Debt Relief or Exit: The Long-Term Effects of Forex Loans on Latvian Households

The stubborn decision of the Latvian government to join the eurozone at any cost put a great burden on Latvian households after the crisis of 2008. Nevertheless, no popular protest movement emerged to change the course of this decision. This study discusses why Latvians undertook individual strategies to cope with the forex loan crisis. Particularly, I look at the choice between formal debt relief procedures and emigration as alternative individual strategies for defaulted debtors. These programmes have not reversed the negative migration trends or significantly decreased the number of Latvian households in arrears. Debt discharge is mainly attainable for wealthy individuals who are able to mobilise their financial and kinship resources. Worse-off debtors cannot attain debt discharge or are stigmatised during the process. Alternatively, emigration has offered a way to cope with overindebtedness and keep up with mortgages and consumer loan payments for a much larger segment of the debtor population.

24.6.2022 | Andris Saulitis | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 48-56 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.540
Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Whither Peripheral Financialisation? Housing Finance in Croatia since the Global Financial Crisis

This article analyses recent developments in Croatian housing finance to update the established account of housing finance and peripheral financialisation in Eastern Europe that is based on the boom-bust cycle of the 2000s and early-to-mid 2010s. During the bust stage of that cycle, changes in regulation and in the behaviour of debtors and creditors resulted in deleveraging and a shift away from the risky and exploitative lending practices characteristic of peripheral housing finance. However, new increases in household debt and housing prices since 2016–17, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, seem to have reversed these trends. While a boom-bust cycle of similar scope and modality to the first one is unlikely to be repeated, peripheral forms of housing finance have persisted to some degree.

23.6.2022 | Marek Mikuš | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 57-67 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.541
Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Different Debtors, Different Struggles: Foreign-Currency Housing Loans and Class Tensions in Romania

Management of foreign-currency household debt in Romania in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 had the effect of deepening pre-2008 class disparities and treated debtor categories differently according to their income. In this article we contribute to the debate on subaltern financialisation by showing how post-crisis credit and housing policies contributed to the fact that today different debtor groups (i.e. by type of credit but also by time of lending) find themselves at opposing ends of the political spectrum based on different class alliances, with those who benefited from the crisis-management polices positioning themselves against those who were the ‘losers’ under these same policies.

22.6.2022 | Ioana Florea, Mihail Dumitriu | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 68-77 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.542
Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Forex Mortgages and Housing Access in the Reconfiguration of Hungarian Politics after 2008

After a boom in foreign-currency denominated (forex) mortgage loans in the 2000s and the resulting debt crisis in 2008-2009, Hungary’s debt management came to be defined by a highly politicised combination of several phenomena: the existence of a large social base at risk of defaulting on their mortgages; the integration of debtors’ struggles into a shift from the post-socialist dominance of neoliberalism to a national conservative political hegemony during the crisis years; and the political foregrounding of forex debt management in the post-2010 Orbán governments’ construction of a new financial model as part of a post-neoliberal authoritarian capitalist regime. The article traces how two main aspects of the forex mortgage crisis, housing debt under dependent financialisation and the problem of limited housing access, became integrated into Hungary’s electoral politics and macroeconomic transformation in the last decade.

21.6.2022 | Ágnes Gagyi | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 78-86 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.543
Housing Finance in the Aftermath of the Foreign-Currency Mortgage Crisis in Eastern Europe

Housing Uncertainty: Socio-economic Inequality and Forex Loans Trajectories in the Bosnian Housing Market

This article explores the nexus between the financialisation of housing and socio-economic inequality in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In this context, since the post-war economic reforms, driven by deindustrialisation, the precarisation of labour, and dependent financialisation, housing loans have become a ‘privilege’ for a restricted group of people with high and stable incomes. Instead, the housing aspirations of Bosnians are generally met with the aid of consumer loans and the ostensibly cheaper FX loans that were introduced in the mid-2000s. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data, this paper highlights the enduring features of the polarised credit market in BiH. It particularly focuses on the period after the 2008 crisis when lending policies were only mildly re-regulated. FX loans never became the object of an ad hoc law to convert them to Bosnian convertible marks. This institutional approach has been unable to challenge the extreme class segmentation of housing finance and is still fostering indebtedness and precarious housing conditions among the lower-income segments of Bosnian society even after the pandemic.

20.6.2022 | Zaira T. Lofranco | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 87-97 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.544

Self-reported and Market Home Values in Housing Wealth Inequality Measurement: Evidence from Warsaw and Prague

This paper aims to examine whether self-reported home valuations can be a substitute for objective market data in studies on the level of housing wealth inequality. In order to achieve this aim, information on subjective values of flats and their features in Warsaw (Poland) and Prague (Czechia) was used. Next, hedonic models were estimated to calculate the objective values of these residential properties. The results indicated that, on average, homeowners overestimated their real estate by 2.10% in Warsaw and underestimated by 5.49% in Prague. Finally, using tests for the equality of variances, it was examined whether the level of housing wealth inequality differed significantly when calculated using subjective and objective home values. The findings showed that self-reported home values cannot serve as a perfect proxy for market values when assessing the level of housing wealth inequality in both cities.

5.5.2022 | Mateusz Tomal | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 29-38 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.538

Sustainable Recovery? Deciphering Hungary’s Residential Property Market before the Pandemic

This paper develops some analytical perspectives for a proper assessment of the dynamics observed on the Hungarian residential property market over the last decade. These dynamics are examined in comparison to official policy objectives. On the one hand, sustainable development and social balance were particularly urgent issues after the last financial crisis. On the other, the residential property market was officially instrumentalised to achieve them. We examined real estate market processes using data from the Hungarian Central Statistical Office and found a change in investment motives and in the main groups of actors dominant in the market, and we also examined the role of foreign investment. At the aggregate national level, the past decade looks like a process of recovery. Nonetheless, the factors relevant for the observable dynamics do not seem to correspond to the goals also formulated in the new constitution, but rather document the investment fever of certain groups.

4.4.2022 | Jörg Dötsch, Tamás Ginter | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 16-28 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.537

Understanding the Economic Situation of People Who Took a Foreign Currency Mortgage in Hungary and Poland

In this article we show that significant differences between the foreign currency mortgage agreements in Hungary and Poland led to significant differences in monthly mortgage payments after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) erupted. Hungarian banks were able to add a variable markup to the LIBOR3M that was connected to bank risk on top of the usual fixed markup. We compare the monthly mortgage payments and LTV levels of people who took out a CHF mortgage with those who obtained a local currency mortgage during the mortgage boom years of 2006–2008. We find that in the initial years of the mortgage CHF mortgages were cheaper than local currency mortgages, which allowed more people to buy housing. However, the GFC led to a deterioration of the exchange rate, and monthly payments and LTV levels (consequently?) increased. We analyse the mortgage costs and LTV levels of the 2006-2008 foreign currency (FX) mortgage vintages in Hungary and Poland between 2006 and 2020 and compare them to local currency mortgages. We also simulate the effects of changing housing prices and wages on mortgages in the cities of Budapest and Warsaw.

3.3.2022 | Hanna Augustyniak, Adrienne Csizmady, József Hegedüs, Jacek Łaszek, Krzysztof Olszewski, Eszter Somogyi | Volume: 9 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 1-15 | 10.13060/23362839.2022.9.1.536