The Missing Foundations of Housing Finance: Incomplete Markets, Fragmented Policies and Emerging Solutions in Guatemala

Bonilla, María Isabel
Sep 2011
In Guatemala there are substantial and growing imbalances in the housing market; at the same time, financial markets remain shallow and underdeveloped. The analytical framework applied in this paper starts by identifying the types of market failures responsible for the underdevelopment of the housing finance system. The working hypothesis is that there is a correlation between the nature and scope of market failures, and the kind of public interventions actually implemented. Evidence collected points to a rejection of the policy adequacy hypothesis. Nevertheless, it is encouraging that solutions have begun to emerge as economic agents learn to overcome market failures; these experiences are reinterpreted as "natural experiments" showing what could happen if market failures could be fixed at a large scale through appropriate government policy. Building on this framework, the paper proposes guidelines for the design and implementation of housing finance policy in Guatemala.