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Incomplete Markets and the Evolution of US Consumer Debt

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  • Winfried Koeniger

    (IZA & University of Bonn)

  • Thomas Hintermaier

    (Institute for Advanced Studies Vienna)

Abstract

Consumer debt has increased substantially in the US since the 1980s. We show in a incomplete-markets model with durables and occasionally binding collateral constraints that neither the higher uninsurable income risk of US consumers nor the financial deregulation explain this increase. The reason is that uninsurable risk increases the buffer-stock saving motive and that agents who are at the collateral constraint find it optimal not to hold durables. We find instead that the observed fall in the real interest rate by 2 percentage points explains 92% of the actual increase in consumer debt.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2007 Meeting Papers with number 256.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed007:256

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  1. Deaton, A., 1989. "Saving And Liquidity Constraints," Papers 153, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  2. Krueger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio, 2005. "Does income inequality lead to consumption inequality? Evidence and theory," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/15, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  3. Ricardo J. Caballero & Emmanuel Farhi & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 2006. "An Equilibrium Model of Global Imbalances and Low Interest Rates," 2006 Meeting Papers 894, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Caporale, Tony & Grier, Kevin B, 2000. "Political Regime Change and the Real Interest Rate," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(3), pages 320-34, August.
  5. Bertola, Giuseppe & Hochguertel, Stefan & Koeniger, Winfried, 2002. "Dealer Pricing of Consumer Credit," CEPR Discussion Papers 3160, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Páscoa, Mario Rui & Araújo, Aloísio Pessoa de & Torres-Martínez, Juan Pablo, 2001. "Collateral Avoids Ponzi Schemes in Incomplete Markets," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 419, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
  7. 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.
  8. Karl Schmedders, Felix Kubler, 2001. "Asset Pricing in Models with incomplete markets and default," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 58, Society for Computational Economics.
  9. Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "A Theory of the Consumption Function, With and Without Liquidity Constraints (Expanded Version)," NBER Working Papers 8387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Sebastian Barnes & Garry Young, 2003. "The rise in US household debt: assessing its causes and sustainability," Bank of England working papers 206, Bank of England.
  11. Joseph Gruber & Robert Martin, 2003. "Precautionary savings and the wealth distribution with illiquid durables," International Finance Discussion Papers 773, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Jeffrey R. Campbell & Zvi Hercowitz, 2005. "The Role of Collateralized Household Debt in Macroeconomic Stabilization," NBER Working Papers 11330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Charles Himmelberg & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2005. "Assessing High House Prices: Bubbles, Fundamentals and Misperceptions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 67-92, Fall.
  14. Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Who Is Credit Constrained in the U.S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-34, February.
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