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Consumption, debt and portfolio choice: testing the effect of bankruptcy law

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  • Andreas Lehnert
  • Dean M. Maki

Abstract

Consumer bankruptcy laws, which vary across states and over time, permit debtors to keep assets below a statutory exemption while debts are forgiven. High exemptions distort household portfolio decisions and tempt households to default on debts, but they also provide a crude form of consumption insurance. We combine information on state-level bankruptcy laws with the Consumer Expenditure Survey from 1984-1999. We find that higher exemptions are associated with (1) higher bankruptcy rates, (2) households that are more likely to simultaneously hold low-return liquid assets and owe high-cost unsecured debt, and (3) slightly better insurance for renters and worse insurance for homeowners.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2002-14.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2002-14

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Related research

Keywords: Bankruptcy ; Consumption (Economics);

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

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  1. Karen Denning & Stephen Ferris & Robert Lawless, 2001. "Serial bankruptcy: plan infeasibility or just bad luck?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 105-109.
  2. Karen E. Dynan & Dean M. Maki, 2001. "Does stock market wealth matter for consumption?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-23, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. White, M.J., 1998. "Why Don't More Households File for Bankruptcy?," Papers 98-03, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  4. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  5. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
  6. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-46, April.
  7. White, Michelle J, 1998. "Why Don't More Households File for Bankruptcy?," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 205-31, October.
  8. David I. Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 1998. "Self-Control and Saving for Retirement," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(1), pages 91-196.
  9. Gropp, Reint & Scholz, John Karl & White, Michelle J, 1997. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Supply and Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 217-51, February.
  10. Harris, Christopher & Laibson, David, 2001. "Dynamic Choices of Hyperbolic Consumers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(4), pages 935-57, July.
  11. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 275-98, May.
  12. Fay, S. & Hurst, E. & White, M.J., 1998. "The Bankruptcy Decision: Does Stigma Matter?," Papers 98-01, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  13. Christopher D. Carroll & Andrew A. Samwick, 1993. "How important is precautionary saving?," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 145, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  14. Carroll, Christopher D, 1994. "How Does Future Income Affect Current Consumption?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 111-47, February.
  15. Alexopoulos, Michelle & Domowitz, Ian, 1998. "Personal Liabilities and Bankruptcy Reform: An International Perspective," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 127-59, October.
  16. Hubbard, R Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1994. "Expanding the Life-Cycle Model: Precautionary Saving and Public Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 174-79, May.
  17. Ian Domowitz & Robert L. Sartain, 1999. "Determinants of the Consumer Bankruptcy Decision," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 403-420, 02.
  18. Baird, Douglas G & Morrison, Edward R, 2001. "Bankruptcy Decision Making," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 356-72, October.
  19. Jon P. Nelson, 1999. "Consumer Bankruptcy And Chapter Choice: State Panel Evidence," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(4), pages 552-566, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Luigi Guiso & Paolo Sodini, 2012. "Household Finance. An Emerging Field," EIEF Working Papers Series 1204, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Mar 2012.
  2. Li, Wenli & Sarte, Pierre-Daniel, 2006. "U.S. consumer bankruptcy choice: The importance of general equilibrium effects," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 613-631, April.
  3. Wenli Li & Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte, 2002. "The macroeconomics of U.S. consumer bankruptcy choice : chapter 7 or chapter 13?," Working Paper 02-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  4. Michelle J. White, 2005. "Economic Analysis of Corporate and Personal Bankruptcy Law," NBER Working Papers 11536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Tufan Ekici & Lucia Dunn, 2010. "Credit card debt and consumption: evidence from household-level data," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(4), pages 455-462.
  6. Telyukova, Irina A., 2012. "Household Need for Liquidity and the Credit Card Debt Puzzle," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt0ww2c04z, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  7. Irina A. Telyukova & Randall Wright, 2008. "A Model of Money and Credit, with Application to the Credit Card Debt Puzzle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(2), pages 629-647.
  8. Carol C. Bertaut & Michael Haliassos, 2001. "Debt Revolvers for Self Control," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 0208, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
  9. Adkisson, Richard V. & Saucedo, Eduardo, 2012. "Emulation and state-by-state variations in bankruptcy rates," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 400-407.
  10. Karel Janda, 2009. "Bankruptcies With Soft Budget Constraint," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 77(4), pages 430-460, 07.
  11. Sumit Agarwal & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Chunlin Liu & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2006. "Do consumers choose the right credit contracts?," Working Paper Series WP-06-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  12. Theresa Kuchler & Johannes Stroebel, 2009. "Foreclosure and Bankruptcy--Policy Conclusions from the Current Crisis," Discussion Papers 08-037, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  13. Donald P. Morgan, 2007. "Defining and detecting predatory lending," Staff Reports 273, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  14. Scott Fulford, 2010. "How important is variability in consumer credit limits?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 754, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 19 Oct 2012.
  15. John V. Duca & Anil Kumar, 2011. "Financial literacy and mortgage equity withdrawals," Working Papers 1110, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

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