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Consumer Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start

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Author Info

  • Igor Livshits
  • James MacGee
  • Mich�le Tertilt

Abstract

Consumer bankruptcy provides partial insurance against bad luck, but, by driving up interest rates, makes life-cycle smoothing more difficult. We argue that to assess this trade-off one needs a quantitative model of consumer bankruptcy with three key features: life-cycle component, idiosyncratic earnings uncertainty, and expense uncertainty (exogenous negative shocks to household balance sheets). We find that transitory and persistent earnings shocks have very different implications for evaluating bankruptcy rules. More persistent shocks make the bankruptcy option more desirable. Larger transitory shocks have the opposite effect. Our findings suggest the current US bankruptcy system may be desirable for reasonable parameter values. (JEL D14, D91, K35)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.97.1.402
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/mar07/20030636_data.zip
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 97 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 402-418

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:1:p:402-418

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.1.402
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  1. Carroll, Christopher D. & Samwick, Andrew A., 1997. "The nature of precautionary wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 41-71, September.
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  8. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Mich�le Tertilt, 2007. "Consumer Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 402-418, March.
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  22. Wenli Li, 2001. "To forgive or not to forgive : an analysis of U.S. consumer bankruptcy choices," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 1-22.
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