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The role of information in the rise in consumer bankruptcies

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  • Juan M. Sanchez

Abstract

Consumer bankruptcies rose sharply over the last 20 years in the U.S. economy. During the same period, there was impressive technological progress in the information sector. This paper provides a theory to understand and quantify the role of improvements in information technologies in consumer credit markets. Informational frictions restrict the amount of debt that can be borrowed. In fact, in the equilibrium in which investing in information is too expensive, many households borrow such small amounts that the default risk is very low. When information costs drop and informational frictions vanish, those households borrow more and default is likely after a bad shock. Quantitative exercises show that information costs have a significant effect on the bankruptcy rate. Additionally, a drop in information costs generates changes in other variables (e.g. interest rate dispersion) similar to what has occurred over the last 20 years.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 09-04.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:09-04

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Keywords: Bankruptcy ; Consumer credit;

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References

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  1. Cristina Arellano, 2008. "Default Risk and Income Fluctuations in Emerging Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 690-712, June.
  2. Jeremy Greenwood & Juan M. Sanchez & Cheng Wang, 2007. "Financing Development: The Role of Information Costs," NBER Working Papers 13104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Ana Castaneda & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2003. "Accounting for the U.S. Earnings and Wealth Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 818-857, August.
  5. Kartik Athreya, 2008. "A Quantitative Theory of Information and Unsecured Credit," 2008 Meeting Papers 68, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Gabriel Cuadra & Horacio Sapriza, 2006. "Sovereign Default, Terms of Trade and Interest Rates in Emerging Markets," Working Papers 2006-01, Banco de México.
  7. Chatterjee, Satyajit & Corbae, Dean & Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor, 2008. "A finite-life private-information theory of unsecured consumer debt," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 142(1), pages 149-177, September.
  8. John G. Riley, 1976. "Informational Equilibrium," UCLA Economics Working Papers 071, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Aguiar, Mark & Gopinath, Gita, 2006. "Defaultable debt, interest rates and the current account," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 64-83, June.
  10. Edelberg, Wendy, 2006. "Risk-based pricing of interest rates for consumer loans," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 2283-2298, November.
  11. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  12. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Makoto Nakajima & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2007. "A quantitative theory of unsecured consumer credit with risk of default," Working Papers 07-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  13. Allen N. Berger, 2002. "The economic effects of technological progress: evidence from the banking industry," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-50, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  14. Enrique G. Mandoza & Vivian Z. Yue, 2008. "A solution to the default risk-business cycle disconnect," International Finance Discussion Papers 924, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  15. Ábrahám, Árpád & Cárceles-Poveda, Eva, 2010. "Endogenous trading constraints with incomplete asset markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(3), pages 974-1004, May.
  16. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michele Tertilt, 2006. "Accounting for the Rise in Consumer Bankruptcies," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20066, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
  17. Enrique G. Mendoza & Vivian Z. Yue, 2008. "A Solution to the Disconnect between Country Risk and Business Cycle Theories," NBER Working Papers 13861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Victor Rios-Rull & Dean Corbae: & Satyajit Chatterjee, 2011. "A Theory of Credit Scoring and the Competitive Pricing of Default Risk," 2011 Meeting Papers 1115, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. N. Narajabad, Borghan, 2010. "Information Technology and the Rise of Household Bankruptcy," MPRA Paper 21058, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Xavier Giné & Jessica Goldberg & Dean Yang, 2011. "Credit Market Consequences of Improved Personal Identification: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi," NBER Working Papers 17449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2010. "Identification strategy : a field experiment on dynamic incentives in rural credit markets," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5438, The World Bank.
  4. Kartik B. Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2011. "Loan guarantees for consumer credit markets," Working Paper 11-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

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