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Consumer Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start

Listed author(s):
  • Igor Livshits
  • James MacGee
  • Michèle Tertilt

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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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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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Steven J. Davis & Felix Kubler & Paul S. Willen, 2005. "Borrowing costs and the demand for equity over the life cycle," Working Papers 05-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  2. 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.
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  12. Alexopoulos, Michelle & Domowitz, Ian, 1998. "Personal Liabilities and Bankruptcy Reform: An International Perspective," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 127-159, October.
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  14. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michèle Tertilt, 2007. "Consumer Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 402-418, March.
  15. Carroll, Christopher D. & Samwick, Andrew A., 1997. "The nature of precautionary wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 41-71, September.
  16. Athreya, Kartik B., 2002. "Welfare implications of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1999," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 1567-1595, November.
  17. Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde & Dirk Krueger, 2004. "Consumption and Saving over the Life Cycle: How Important are Consumer Durables?," 2004 Meeting Papers 357b, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  18. Jerome Adda & Russell W. Cooper, 2003. "Dynamic Economics: Quantitative Methods and Applications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012014.
  19. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  20. Pavan, Marina, 2008. "Consumer durables and risky borrowing: The effects of bankruptcy protection," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1441-1456, November.
  21. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos & Martin Shubik, 2000. "Default in a General Equilibrium Model with Incomplete Markets," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1247, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  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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