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Information Acquisition in Competitive Markets: An Application to the US Mortgage Market

  • Jeremy M. Burke
  • Curtis R. Taylor
  • Liad Wagman

How do price commitments impact the amount of information firms acquire about potential customers? We examine this question in the context of a competitive market where firms search for information that may disqualify applicants. Contracts are incomplete because the amount of information acquired cannot be observed. Despite competition, we find that firms search for too much information in equilibrium. If price discrimination is prohibited, members of high-risk groups suffer disproportionately high rejection rates. If rejected applicants remain in the market, the resulting adverse selection can be severe. We apply the results to the US mortgage market. (JEL D82, D83, D86, G21)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/mic.4.4.65
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Microeconomics.

Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 65-106

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:65-106
Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.4.4.65
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-micro
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  1. Geetesh Bhardwaj & Rajdeep Sengupta, 2008. "Where's the smoking gun? a study of underwriting standards for US subprime mortgages," Working Papers 2008-036, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  2. Robert Townsend, 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Staff Report 45, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Munnell, Alicia H. & Geoffrey M. B. Tootell & Lynn E. Browne & James McEneaney, 1996. "Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting HMDA Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 25-53, March.
  4. George J. Stigler, 1980. "An Introduction to Privacy in Economics and Politics," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 10, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  5. Giacomo Calzolari & Alessandro Pavan, 2004. "On the Optimality of Privacy in Sequential Contracting," Discussion Papers 1394, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  6. Bhardwaj, Geetesh & Sengupta, Rajdeep, 2012. "Subprime mortgage design," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 1503-1519.
  7. Jean Tirole, 1988. "The Theory of Industrial Organization," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262200716, June.
  8. Hirshleifer, Jack, 1971. "The Private and Social Value of Information and the Reward to Inventive Activity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(4), pages 561-74, September.
  9. Benjamin J. Keys & Tanmoy Mukherjee & Amit Seru & Vikrant Vig, 2010. "Did Securitization Lead to Lax Screening? Evidence from Subprime Loans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 307-362, February.
  10. Curtis R. Taylor, 2004. "Consumer Privacy and the Market for Customer Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(4), pages 631-650, Winter.
  11. J. Miguel Villas-Boas, 2004. "Price Cycles in Markets with Customer Recognition," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(3), pages 486-501, Autumn.
  12. Fahad Khalil, 1997. "Auditing Without Commitment," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 629-640, Winter.
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