Jason Allen is a Senior Research Officer in the Economic and Financial Research Department at the Bank of Canada. He is an applied microeconomist whose primary research interests center on the household sector and the role that competition in retail banking plays in shaping credit outcomes. Specific topics include price competition in the mortgage market and bankruptcy choice. Jason Allen received his PhD in economics from Queen’s University.
The authors examine the degree of contestability in the Canadian banking system using the H-statistic proposed by Panzar and Rosse (1987) and modified by Bikker, Spierdijk, and Finnie (2006). A modification is necessary because the standard approach of controlling for size using total assets leads to an upward bias in the H-statistic. The authors propose […]
This paper looks at the role mortgage brokers play in helping borrowers generate quotes and qualify for credit. We find that, on average, borrowers that engage with a mortgage broker pay lower interest rates. However, in about 15% of cases, borrowers are steered towards longer amortizing mortgages than they would have chosen absent a broker. Since mortgages with longer amortization have higher total interest costs over the entire life of the mortgage, this steering is expensive.
Would a shift in trading in fixed-income markets—from over the counter (bilateral trading) to a centralized electronic platform—improve welfare? We use trade-level data on the secondary market for Government of Canada debt to answer this question.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian financial institutions offered debt-relief programs to help borrowers cope with job losses and economic insecurity. We consider the low take-up rates for these programs and suggest that to be effective, such programs must be visible and easy to use.
Repeated interactions between borrowers and lenders create the possibility of dynamic pricing: lenders compete aggressively with low prices to attract new borrowers and then raise their prices once borrowers have made a commitment. We find such pricing patterns in the Canadian mortgage market.
This paper combines loan-level administrative data with household-level survey data to analyze the impact of recent macroprudential policy changes in Canada using a microsimulation model of mortgage demand of first-time homebuyers.
We examine the impact of the 2009 amendments to the Canadian Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act on insolvency decisions. Rule changes steered debtors out of division I proposals and into the more cost-effective division II proposals.
We develop a model to analyze the link between financial leverage, worker pay structure and the risk of job termination. Contrary to the conventional view, we show that even in the absence of any agency problem among workers, variable pay can be optimal despite workers being risk averse and firms risk neutral.
This paper measures market power in a decentralized market where contracts are determined through a search and negotiation process. The mortgage industry has many institutional features which suggest competitiveness: homogeneous contracts, negotiable rates, and, for a given consumer, common lending costs across lenders.
The Bank of Canada’s annual economic conference, held in October 2012, brought together experts from across Canada and around the world to discuss key issues concerning financial intermediation and vulnerabilities. The conference covered such topics as household finances and their relationship to financial stability, as well as bank regulation, securitization and shadow banking.
With increasing levels of household debt in recent years, the number of households that may be vulnerable to a negative economic shock is rising as well. Decisions made by both the debtor and the creditor can contribute to insolvency. This article presents some stylized facts about insolvency in Canada’s household sector and analyzes the role of creditors in insolvencies. The average debt of an individual filing for bankruptcy is more than 1.5 times that of an average Canadian household; bankruptcy filers tend to be unemployed or in low-wage jobs, and are typically renters. The article reports that banks that approve more loans per branch, which is interpreted as less-intensive use of soft information (such as the loan officer’s assessment of the applicant’s character), experience more client bankruptcies. This finding has important policy implications, because financial institutions that do not use soft information risk further deterioration in their lending portfolios.
This article begins with a brief examination of the Canadian mortgage market, focusing on the market’s evolution following changes to the Bank Act in 1992, which allowed chartered banks to enter the trust business, and the subsequent entrance of virtual banks and mortgage brokers.
Allen and Engert report on recent research at the Bank of Canada on various aspects of efficiency in the Canadian banking industry. This research suggests that, overall, Canadian banks appear to be relatively efficient producers of financial services and they do not exercise monopoly or collusive-oligopoly power. The authors note the value of continuing to investigate opportunities to improve efficiency and competition in financial services in Canada.
"Centralizing over-the-counter markets" (with Milena Wittwer), Forthcoming Journal of Political Economy
“Resolving Failed Banks: Uncertainty, Multiple Bidding & Auction Design“ (with Robert Clark, Brent Hickman and Eric Richert), Bank of Canada working paper 2019-30, Forthcoming Review of Economic Studies
"Debt-relief programs and money left on the table: Evidence from Canada's response to COVID-19" (with Robert Clark, Shaoteng Li and Nicolas Vincent), Bank of Canada working paper 2021-13, Canadian Journal of Economics, 2022, 55 (SI), p. 9-53 (lead article).
“Crisis Management in Canada: Analyzing Default Risk and Liquidity Demand during Financial Stress”, (with Alil Hortacsu and Jakub Kastl), AEJ: micro, 2021, 13, p. 243-275.
“Variable pay: is it for the worker or the firm?” (with James Thompson), Journal of Corporate Finance, October 2019, volume 58, p. 551-566.