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A model of money and credit, with application to the credit card debt puzzle

  • Irina A. Telyukova
  • Randall Wright

Many individuals simultaneously have significant credit card debt and money in the bank. The credit card debt puzzle is: given high interest rates on credit cards and low rates on bank accounts, why not pay down debt? While some economists go to elaborate lengths to explain this, we argue it is a special case of the rate-of-return-dominance puzzle from monetary economics. We extend standard monetary theory to incorporate consumer debt, which is interesting in its own right since developing models where money and credit coexist is a long-standing challenge. Our model is quite tractable—e.g., it readily yields nice existence and characterization results—and helps puts into context recent discussions of consumer debt.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its series Working Paper with number 0711.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:0711
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  1. Randall Wright & Guillame Rocheteau, 2003. "Money in Search Equilibrium, in Competitive Equilibrium, and in Competitive Search Equilibrium," Levine's Bibliography 666156000000000302, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Athanasios Geromichalos & Juan M Licari & Jose Suarez-Lledo, 2007. "Monetary Policy and Asset Prices," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(4), pages 761-779, October.
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  5. Ruilin Zhou, 1996. "Individual and aggregate real balances in a random matching model," Staff Report 222, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Lagos, Ricardo & Wright, Randall, 2003. "Dynamics, cycles, and sunspot equilibria in 'genuinely dynamic, fundamentally disaggregative' models of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 109(2), pages 156-171, April.
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  8. Shi, Shouyong, 1996. "Credit and Money in a Search Model with Divisible Commodities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 627-52, October.
  9. Christopher Waller & Guillaume Rocheteau, 2005. "Bargaining in Monetary Economies," 2005 Meeting Papers 55, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2002. "A unified framework for monetary theory and policy analysis," Working Paper 0211, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  11. Shi Shougong, 1995. "Money and Prices: A Model of Search and Bargaining," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 467-496, December.
  12. Irina A. Telyukova, 2007. "Household Need for Liquidity and the Credit Card Debt Puzzle," 2007 Meeting Papers 515, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Andreas Lehnert & Dean M. Maki, 2002. "Consumption, debt and portfolio choice: testing the effect of bankruptcy law," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-14, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  14. Cavalcanti, Ricardo de O & Wallace, Neil, 1999. "Inside and Outside Money as Alternative Media of Exchange," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(3), pages 443-57, August.
  15. Michael Haliassos & Michael Reiter, 2005. "Credit card debt puzzles," Economics Working Papers 901, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  16. Zhu, Tao, 2005. "Existence of a monetary steady state in a matching model: divisible money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 135-160, August.
  17. Carol C. Bertaut & Michael Haliassos, 2001. "Debt Revolvers for Self Control," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 0208, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
  18. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," Documentos de Trabajo 80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  19. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Do Liquidity Constraints And Interest Rates Matter For Consumer Behavior? Evidence From Credit Card Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185, February.
  20. Ricardo Lagos & Guillaume Rocheteau, 2004. "Money and capital as competing media of exchange," Staff Report 341, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  21. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Makoto Nakajima & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2007. "A Quantitative Theory of Unsecured Consumer Credit with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(6), pages 1525-1589, November.
  22. Ping He & Lixin Huang & Randall Wright, 2005. "Money And Banking In Search Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(2), pages 637-670, 05.
  23. Stephen D. Williamson, 2006. "Search, Limited Participation, And Monetary Policy ," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(1), pages 107-128, 02.
  24. Aruoba, S. Boragan & Waller, Christopher J. & Wright, Randall, 2011. "Money and capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 98-116, March.
  25. Edward J. Green & Ruilin Zhou, 2002. "Dynamic Monetary Equilibrium in a Random Matching Economy," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 929-969, May.
  26. Kocherlakota, Narayana R., 1998. "Money Is Memory," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 232-251, August.
  27. Ricardo de O. Cavalcanti & Neil Wallace, 1999. "A model of private bank-note issue," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 104-136, January.
  28. Dean Corbae & Ted Temzelides & Randall Wright, 2003. "Directed Matching and Monetary Exchange," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(3), pages 731-756, 05.
  29. Camera, G. & Corbae, D., 1998. "Money and Price Dispersion," Working Papers 98-03, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  30. Edward J. Green & Ruilin Zhou, . ""A Rudimentary Model of Search with Divisible Money and Prices''," CARESS Working Papres 95-17, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  31. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2006. "Finite-Life, Private-Information Theory of Unsecured Debt," 2006 Meeting Papers 781, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  32. Miguel Molico, 2006. "The Distribution Of Money And Prices In Search Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(3), pages 701-722, 08.
  33. Wallace, Neil, 2001. "Whither Monetary Economics?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 847-69, November.
  34. Trejos, Alberto & Wright, Randall, 1995. "Search, Bargaining, Money, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 118-41, February.
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