Borrowing in Foreign Currency: Austrian Households as Carry Traders
Christian Beer, Steven Ongena and Dr. Marcel Peter
G21, G15, F34, F37
oreign currency borrowing, mortgages, banking sector, Austria, Swissfrancs
Household borrowing in a foreign currency is a widespread phenomenon in Austria. Twelve percent of Austrian households report their housing loan to be denominated in either Swiss franc or Japanese yen for example. Yet, despite its importance, peculiar character, and immediate policy concerns, we know too little about the attitudes and characteristics of the households involved in this type of carry trade. We analyze a uniquely detailed financial wealth survey of 2,556 Austrian households to sketch a comprehensive profile of the attitudes and characteristics of the households involved. We employ both univariate tests and multivariate multinomial logit models. The survey data suggests that risk-loving, wealthy, and married households are more likely to take a housing loan in a foreign currency. High-income households are more likely to take a housing loan in general. These findings may partially assuage policy concerns about household default risk on foreign-currency housing loans.