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Do Liquidity Constraints And Interest Rates Matter For Consumer Behavior? Evidence From Credit Card Data

  • David B. Gross
  • Nicholas S. Souleles

This paper utilizes a unique data set of credit card accounts to analyze how people respond to credit supply. Increases in credit limits generate an immediate and significant rise in debt, counter to the Permanent-Income Hypothesis. The "MPC out of liquidity" is largest for people starting near their limit, consistent with binding liquidity constraints. However, the MPC is significant even for people starting well below their limit, consistent with precautionary models. Nonetheless, there are other results that conventional models cannot easily explain, for example, why so many people are borrowing on their credit cards, and simultaneously holding low yielding assets. The long-run elasticity of debt to the interest rate is approximately -1.3, less than half of which represents balanceshifting across cards. © 2001 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 117 (2002)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 149-185

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:1:p:149-185
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  1. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1995. "Inside the Black Box: The Credit Channel of Monetary Policy Transmission," Working Papers 95-15, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  2. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 1994. "The effects of monetary policy shocks: evidence from the Flow of Funds," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Tullio Jappelli & Marco Pagano, 1998. "The Welfare Effects of Liquidity Constraints," CSEF Working Papers 13, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  4. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," Documentos de Trabajo 80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  5. Campbell, John Y. & Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1990. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," Scholarly Articles 3353762, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Deaton, A., 1989. "Saving And Liquidity Constraints," Papers 153, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  7. Calem, Paul S & Mester, Loretta J, 1995. "Consumer Behavior and the Stickiness of Credit-Card Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1327-36, December.
  8. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1797-1855, December.
  9. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  10. David B. Gross, 2002. "An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 319-347, March.
  11. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-57, April.
  12. Ludvigson, Sydney, 1998. "The Channel of Monetary Transmission to Demand: Evidence from the Market for Automobile Credit," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 30(3), pages 365-83, August.
  13. 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.
  14. Anil Kashyap & Jeremy C. Stein, 1993. "Monetary Policy and Bank Lending," NBER Working Papers 4317, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  16. Altonji, Joseph G & Siow, Aloysius, 1987. "Testing the Response of Consumption to Income Changes with (Noisy) Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 293-328, May.
  17. Runkle, David E., 1991. "Liquidity constraints and the permanent-income hypothesis : Evidence from panel data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 73-98, February.
  18. Sydney Ludvigson, 1996. "Consumption and credit: a model of time-varying liquidity constraints," Research Paper 9624, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  19. Jappelli, Tullio & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen & Souleles, Nicholas, 1995. "Testing for Liquidity Constraints in Euler Equations with Complementary Data Sources," CEPR Discussion Papers 1138, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Robert E. Hall & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1980. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," NBER Working Papers 0505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. 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.
  22. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
  23. repec:fth:pennfi:69 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. 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.
  25. Frederic S. Mishkin, 1995. "Symposium on the Monetary Transmission Mechanism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 3-10, Fall.
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