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Consumer bankruptcy: a fresh start

Author

Listed:
  • Igor Livshits
  • James MacGee
  • Michele Tertilt

Abstract

American consumer bankruptcy provides for a Fresh Start through the discharge of a household?s debt. Until recently, many European countries specified a No Fresh Start policy of life-long liability for debt. The trade-off between these two policies is that while Fresh Start provides insurance across states, it drives up interest rates and thereby makes life-cycle smoothing more difficult. This paper quantitatively compares these bankruptcy rules using a life-cycle model with incomplete markets calibrated to the U.S. and Germany. A key innovation is that households face idiosyncratic uncertainty about their net asset holdings (expense shocks) and labor income. We find that expense uncertainty plays a key role in evaluating consumer bankruptcy laws.

Suggested Citation

  • Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michele Tertilt, 2003. "Consumer bankruptcy: a fresh start," Working Papers 617, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:617
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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

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