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Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending

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  • William Adams
  • Liran Einav
  • Jonathan Levin

Abstract

We present new evidence on consumer liquidity constraints and the credit market conditions that might give rise to them. We analyze unique data from a large auto sales company serving the subprime market. Short-term liquidity appears to be a key driver of consumer behavior. Demand increases sharply during tax rebate season and purchases are highly sensitive to down-payment requirements. Lenders also face substantial informational problems. Default rates rise significantly with loan size, providing a rationale for loan caps, and higher-risk borrowers demand larger loans. This adverse selection is mitigated, however, by risk-based pricing. (JEL D14, D82, D83, G21)

Suggested Citation

  • William Adams & Liran Einav & Jonathan Levin, 2009. "Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 49-84, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:1:p:49-84 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.1.49
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dwight M. Jaffee & Thomas Russell, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-666.
    2. Orazio P. Attanasio & Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Ekaterini Kyriazidou, 2008. "Credit Constraints In The Market For Consumer Durables: Evidence From Micro Data On Car Loans," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 401-436, May.
    3. Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "A Theory of the Consumption Function, with and without Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 23-45, Summer.
    4. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, pages 305-346.
    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.
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    7. Michael Rothschild & Joseph Stiglitz, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 629-649.
    8. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries With a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, pages 1993-2008.
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    10. Deaton, Angus, 1991. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(5), pages 1221-1248, September.
    11. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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