IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/fip/fedpwp/05-13.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A century of consumer credit reporting in America

Author

Listed:
  • Robert M. Hunt

Abstract

In the United States today, there is at least one credit bureau file, and probably three, for every credit-using individual in the country. Over 2 billion items of information are added to these files every month, and over 3 million credit reports are issued every day. Real-time access to credit bureau information has reduced the time required to approve a loan from a few weeks to just a few minutes. But credit bureaus have also been criticized for furnishing erroneous information and for compromising privacy. The result has been 30 years of regulation at the state and federal levels. ; This paper describes how the consumer credit reporting industry evolved from a few joint ventures of local retailers around 1900 to a high-technology industry that plays a supporting role in America’s trillion dollar consumer credit market. In many ways the development of the industry reflects the intuition developed in the theoretical literature on information-sharing arrangements. But the story is richer than the models. Credit bureaus have changed as retail and lending markets changed, and the impressive gains in productivity at credit bureaus are the result of their substantial investments in technology. ; Credit bureaus obviously benefit when their data are more reliable, but should we expect them to attain the socially efficient degree of accuracy? There are plausible reasons to think not, and this is the principal economic rationale for regulating the industry. An examination of the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act reveals an attempt to attain an appropriate economic balancing of the benefits of a voluntary information sharing arrangement against the cost of any resulting mistakes. Subsequent litigation and amendments to the act reveal how this balance has evolved over time. ; Also issued as Payment Cards Center Discussion Paper No. 05-07

Suggested Citation

  • Robert M. Hunt, 2005. "A century of consumer credit reporting in America," Working Papers 05-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:05-13
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.philadelphiafed.org/research-and-data/publications/working-papers/2005/wp05-13.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alberto Bisin & Danilo Guaitoli, 2004. "Moral Hazard and Nonexclusive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, pages 306-328.
    2. Brennan, Michael J., 1986. "A theory of price limits in futures markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 213-233, June.
    3. Alberto Bisin & Adriano Rampini, 2006. "Exclusive contracts and the institution of bankruptcy," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 27(2), pages 277-304, January.
    4. Stewart C. Myers & Raghuram G. Rajan, 1998. "The Paradox of Liquidity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, pages 733-771.
    5. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1998. "Private and Public Supply of Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 1-40, February.
    6. Brusco, Sandro & Jackson, Matthew O., 1999. "The Optimal Design of a Market," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 1-39, September.
    7. Charles M. Kahn & Dilip Mookherjee, 1998. "Competition and Incentives with Nonexclusive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, pages 443-465.
    8. Tano Santos & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2001. "Competition among Exchanges," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1027-1061.
    9. Glosten, Lawrence R, 1994. " Is the Electronic Open Limit Order Book Inevitable?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1127-1161, September.
    10. Douglas W. Diamond, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414.
    11. Bizer, David S & DeMarzo, Peter M, 1992. "Sequential Banking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 41-61, February.
    12. Kathleen Hagerty & Robert L. McDonald, 1996. "Brokerage, Market Fragmentation, and Securities Market Regulation," NBER Chapters,in: The Industrial Organization and Regulation of the Securities Industry, pages 35-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Seppi, Duane J, 1997. "Liquidity Provision with Limit Orders and a Strategic Specialist," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(1), pages 103-150.
    14. Bloomfield, Robert & O'Hara, Maureen, 1999. "Market Transparency: Who Wins and Who Loses?," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(1), pages 5-35.
    15. Pagano, Marco & Roell, Ailsa, 1996. " Transparency and Liquidity: A Comparison of Auction and Dealer Markets with Informed Trading," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(2), pages 579-611, June.
    16. Christine A. Parlour & Uday Rajan, 2001. "Competition in Loan Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1311-1328, December.
    17. Robert M. Townsend, 1978. "Intermediation with Costly Bilateral Exchange," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(3), pages 417-425.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Berliant, Marcus & Kung, Fan-chin, 2006. "Can Information Asymmetry Cause Agglomeration?," MPRA Paper 1278, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 29 Dec 2006.
    2. Federico Ferretti, 2007. "Consumer credit information systems: a critical review of the literature. Too little attention paid by Lawyers?," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 71-88, February.
    3. Berliant, Marcus & Kung, Fan-chin, 2010. "Can information asymmetry cause stratification?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 196-209, July.
    4. Wardrip, Keith & Hunt, Robert M., 2013. "Residential Migration, Entry, and Exit as Seen Through the Lens of Credit Bureau Data," Payment Cards Center Discussion Paper 13-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    5. Kartik Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2012. "A Quantitative Theory of Information and Unsecured Credit," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 153-183, July.
    6. Robert B. Avery & Kenneth P. Brevoort & Glenn Canner, 2012. "Does Credit Scoring Produce a Disparate Impact?," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 40, pages 65-114, December.
    7. Brown, Martin & Zehnder, Christian, 2010. "The emergence of information sharing in credit markets," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 255-278, April.
    8. Martin Brown & Christian Zehnder, 2007. "Credit Reporting, Relationship Banking, and Loan Repayment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(8), pages 1883-1918, December.
    9. Gehrig, Thomas & Stenbacka, Rune, 2007. "Information sharing and lending market competition with switching costs and poaching," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 77-99, January.
    10. repec:spr:fininn:v:1:y:2015:i:1:d:10.1186_s40854-015-0005-6 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumer credit ; Fair Credit Reporting Act;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:05-13. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Beth Paul). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/frbphus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.