IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/restud/v83y2016i4p1673-1710..html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Democratization of Credit and the Rise in Consumer Bankruptcies

Author

Listed:
  • Igor Livshits
  • James C. Mac Gee
  • Michèle Tertilt

Abstract

Financial innovations are a common explanation for the rise in credit card debt and bankruptcies. To evaluate this story, we develop a simple model that incorporates two key frictions: asymmetric information about borrowers' risk of default and a fixed cost of developing each contract lenders offer. Innovations that ameliorate asymmetric information or reduce this fixed cost have large extensive margin effects via the entry of new lending contracts targeted at riskier borrowers. This results in more defaults and borrowing, and increased dispersion of interest rates. Using the Survey of Consumer Finances and Federal Reserve Board interest rate data, we find evidence supporting these predictions. Specifically, the dispersion of credit card interest rates nearly tripled while the "new" cardholders of the late 1980s and 1990s had riskier observable characteristics than existing cardholders. Our calculations suggest that these new cardholders accounted for over 20% of the rise in bank credit card debt and delinquencies between 1989 and 1998.

Suggested Citation

  • Igor Livshits & James C. Mac Gee & Michèle Tertilt, 2016. "The Democratization of Credit and the Rise in Consumer Bankruptcies," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 83(4), pages 1673-1710.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:83:y:2016:i:4:p:1673-1710.
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdw011
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. W. Scott Frame & Lawrence J. White, 2004. "Empirical Studies of Financial Innovation: Lots of Talk, Little Action?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 116-144, March.
    2. 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.
    3. Marie Allard & Jean-Paul Cresta & Jean-Charles Rochet, 1997. "Pooling and Separating Equilibria in Insurance Markets with Adverse Selection and Distribution Costs*," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 22(2), pages 103-120, December.
    4. Thomas Hintermaier & Winfried Koeniger, 2016. "Debt Portfolios and Homestead Exemptions," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 103-141, October.
    5. Edelberg, Wendy, 2006. "Risk-based pricing of interest rates for consumer loans," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 2283-2298, November.
    6. Veronica Guerrieri & Robert Shimer & Randall Wright, 2010. "Adverse Selection in Competitive Search Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 1823-1862, November.
    7. Nordhaus, William D., 2007. "Two Centuries of Productivity Growth in Computing," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(1), pages 128-159, March.
    8. Alberto Bisin & Piero Gottardi, 2006. "Efficient Competitive Equilibria with Adverse Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(3), pages 485-516, June.
    9. Kartik Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2012. "A Quantitative Theory of Information and Unsecured Credit," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 153-183, July.
    10. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos, 2002. "Competitive Pooling: Rothschild-Stiglitz Reconsidered," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 117(4), pages 1529-1570.
    11. Prescott, Edward C & Townsend, Robert M, 1984. "Pareto Optima and Competitive Equilibria with Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 21-45, January.
    12. Diann Moorman & Steven Garasky, 2008. "Consumer Debt Repayment Behavior as a Precursor to Bankruptcy," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 219-233, June.
    13. Astrid A. Dick & Andreas Lehnert, 2010. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Market Competition," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(2), pages 655-686, April.
    14. Mark Furletti, 2002. "An overview of credit card asset-backed securities," Consumer Finance Institute discussion papers 02-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    15. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1991. "The Failure of Competition in the Credit Card Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 50-81, March.
    16. Hellwig, Martin, 1987. "Some recent developments in the theory of competition in markets with adverse selection ," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 319-325.
    17. David Durand, 1941. "Risk Elements in Consumer Instalment Financing," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dura41-1, January.
    18. Sumit Agarwal & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Chunlin Liu, 2010. "The Importance of Adverse Selection in the Credit Card Market: Evidence from Randomized Trials of Credit Card Solicitations," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(4), pages 743-754, June.
    19. Berger, Allen N & Frame, W Scott & Miller, Nathan H, 2005. "Credit Scoring and the Availability, Price, and Risk of Small Business Credit," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(2), pages 191-222, April.
    20. Thomas, Lyn C., 2009. "Consumer Credit Models: Pricing, Profit and Portfolios," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199232130, Decembrie.
    21. Jaromir B. Nosal & Lukasz A. Drozd, 2008. "Competing for Customers: A Search Model of the Market for Unsecured Credit," 2008 Meeting Papers 274, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    22. Borghan Nezami Narajabad, 2012. "Information Technology and the Rise of Household Bankruptcy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(4), pages 526-550, October.
    23. 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.
    24. David B. Gross, 2002. "An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency," The Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 319-347, March.
    25. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 175-200, Fall.
    26. Glenn B. Canner & Charles A. Luckett, 1992. "Developments in the pricing of credit card services," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Sep, pages 652-666.
    27. Thomas A. Durkin, 2000. "Credit cards: use and consumer attitudes, 1970-2000," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), vol. 86(Sep), pages 623-634, September.
    28. 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.
    29. Brito, Dagobert L & Hartley, Peter R, 1995. "Consumer Rationality and Credit Cards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 400-433, April.
    30. Kartik B. Athreya, 2001. "The growth of unsecured credit : are we better off?," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 11-33.
    31. N. Gregory Mankiw & Michael D. Whinston, 1986. "Free Entry and Social Inefficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 48-58, Spring.
    32. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," NBER Working Papers 13265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    33. Wilson, Charles, 1977. "A model of insurance markets with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 167-207, December.
    34. Dwight M. Jaffee & Thomas Russell, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 90(4), pages 651-666.
    35. Edward J. Bird & Paul A. Hagstrom & Robert Wild & Janet A. Weiss, 1999. "Credit card debts of the poor: High and rising," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 125-133.
    36. Paul F. Smith, 1964. "Measuring Risk on Consumer Instalment Credit," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(2), pages 327-340, November.
    37. David Durand, 1941. "Risk Elements in Consumer Instalment Financing, Technical Edition," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dura41-2, January.
    38. Joseph P. Newhouse, 1996. "Reimbursing Health Plans and Health Providers: Efficiency in Production versus Selection," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1236-1263, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Igor Livshits, 2015. "Recent Developments In Consumer Credit And Default Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 594-613, September.
    2. Jim MacGee & Igor Livshits & Michele Tertilt, 2008. "Costly Contracts and Consumer Credit," 2008 Meeting Papers 385, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Danisewicz, Piotr & Elard, Ilaf, 2023. "The real effects of financial technology: Marketplace lending and personal bankruptcy," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 155(C).
    4. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Kyle Dempsey & José‐Víctor Ríos‐Rull, 2023. "A Quantitative Theory of the Credit Score," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 91(5), pages 1803-1840, September.
    5. Athreya, Kartik & Tam, Xuan S. & Young, Eric R., 2009. "Unsecured credit markets are not insurance markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 83-103, January.
    6. Gajendran Raveendranathan, 2018. "Improved Matching, Directed Search, and Bargaining in the Credit Card Market," Department of Economics Working Papers 2018-05, McMaster University.
    7. Bulent Guler, 2015. "Innovations in Information Technology and the Mortgage Market," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(3), pages 456-483, July.
    8. Gajendran Raveendranathan & Georgios Stefanidis, 2020. "The Unprecedented Fall in U.S. Revolving Credit," Department of Economics Working Papers 2020-05, McMaster University.
    9. Dosis, Anastasios, 2018. "On signalling and screening in markets with asymmetric information," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 140-149.
    10. Li, Anqi & Xing, Yiqing, 2020. "Intermediated implementation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 123(C).
    11. Song Han & Benjamin J. Keys & Geng Li, 2011. "Credit supply to personal bankruptcy filers: evidence from credit card mailings," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2011-29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    12. Diasakos, Theodoros M. & Koufopoulos, Kostas, 2018. "(Neutrally) Optimal Mechanism under Adverse Selection: The canonical insurance problem," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 159-186.
    13. Daphne Chen & Jake Zhao, 2017. "The Impact of Personal Bankruptcy on Labor Supply Decisions," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 40-61, October.
    14. Attar, Andrea & Campioni, Eloisa & Piaser, Gwenaël, 2018. "On competing mechanisms under exclusive competition," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 1-15.
    15. De Feo, Giuseppe & Hindriks, Jean, 2014. "Harmful competition in insurance markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 213-226.
    16. Mankart, Jochen, 2014. "The (Un-) importance of Chapter 7 wealth exemption levels," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 1-16.
    17. Wanda Mimra & Achim Wambach, 2011. "A Game-Theoretic Foundation for the Wilson Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets with Adverse Selection," CESifo Working Paper Series 3412, CESifo.
    18. Wanda Mimra & Achim Wambach, 2019. "Contract withdrawals and equilibrium in competitive markets with adverse selection," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 67(4), pages 875-907, June.
    19. Michelle M. Miller, 2015. "Social Networks and Personal Bankruptcy," Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 12(2), pages 289-310, June.
    20. Song Han & Geng Li, 2011. "Household Borrowing after Personal Bankruptcy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 43, pages 491-517, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E49 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Other
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • K35 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Personal Bankruptcy Law

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:83:y:2016:i:4:p:1673-1710.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Oxford University Press (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://academic.oup.com/restud .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.