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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. 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.
  2. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 7879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 1995. "The Welfare Effects of Liquidity Constraints," CEPR Discussion Papers 1108, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 1994. "The effects of monetary policy shocks: evidence from the flow of funds," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Apr.
  5. 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.
  6. Deaton, A., 1989. "Saving And Liquidity Constraints," Papers 153, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  7. Paul S. Calem & Loretta J. Mester, 1994. "Consumer Behavior and the Stickiness of Credit Card Interest Rates," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 94-14, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  8. 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.
  9. Sydney Ludvigson, 1996. "Consumption and credit: a model of time-varying liquidity constraints," Research Paper 9624, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  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. 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. Robert E. Hall, 1981. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," NBER Working Papers 0720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
  19. Campbell, John Y & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1990. "Permanent Income, Current Income, and Consumption," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(3), pages 265-79, July.
  20. Anil Kashyap & Jeremy C. Stein, 1993. "Monetary Policy and Bank Lending," NBER Working Papers 4317, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  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.
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