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Consumer Credit with Over-Optimistic Borrowers

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  • Exler, Florian
  • Livshits, Igor
  • MacGee, Jim
  • Tertilt, Michèle

Abstract

There is active debate over whether borrowers' cognitive biases create a need for regulation to limit the misuse of credit. To tackle this question, we incorporate over-optimistic borrowers into an incomplete markets model with consumer bankruptcy. Lenders price loans, forming beliefs - type scores - about borrowers' types. Since over-optimistic borrowers face worse income risk but incorrectly believe they are rational, both types behave identically. This gives rise to a tractable theory of type scoring as lenders cannot screen borrower types. Since rationals default less often, the partial pooling of borrowers generates cross-subsidization whereby over-optimists face lower than actuarially fair interest rates. Over-optimists make financial mistakes: they borrow too much and default too late. We calibrate the model to the US and quantitatively evaluate several policies to address these frictions: reducing the cost of default, increasing borrowing costs, imposing debt limits, and providing financial literacy education. While some policies lower debt and filings, they do not reduce overborrowing. Financial literacy education can eliminate financial mistakes, but it also reduces behavioral borrowers' welfare by ending cross-subsidization. Score-dependent borrowing limits can reduce financial mistakes but lower welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Exler, Florian & Livshits, Igor & MacGee, Jim & Tertilt, Michèle, 2020. "Consumer Credit with Over-Optimistic Borrowers," CEPR Discussion Papers 15570, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:15570
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Consumer Credit With Over-Optimistic Borrowers
      by Christian Zimmermann in NEP-DGE blog on 2020-12-21 19:08:44

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    Cited by:

    1. Almut Balleer & Georg Duernecker & Susanne K. Forstner & Johannes Goensch, 2021. "The Effects of Biased Labor Market Expectations on Consumption, Wealth Inequality, and Welfare," CESifo Working Paper Series 9326, CESifo.
    2. Dávila, Eduardo & Walther, Ansgar, 2021. "Prudential policy with distorted beliefs," ESRB Working Paper Series 130, European Systemic Risk Board.
    3. Exler, Florian & Hansak, Alexander, 2021. "Naïve Consumers and Financial Mistakes," VfS Annual Conference 2021 (Virtual Conference): Climate Economics 242359, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    bankruptcy; Consumer credit; Cross-subsidization; financial literacy; Financial Mistakes; financial regulation; Over-Optimism; Type Score;
    All these keywords.

    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

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