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Debt collection agencies and the supply of consumer credit

  • Fedaseyeu, Viktar
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    Superseded by Working Paper 15-23 I examine contract enforcement in consumer credit markets by studying the role of third-party debt collectors. In order to identify the effect of debt collectors on credit supply, I construct a state-level index of the tightness of debt collection laws. I find that stricter regulations of third-party debt collectors are associated with a lower number of third-party debt collectors per capita and with fewer openings of revolving lines of credit. One additional restriction on debt collection activity reduces the number of debt collectors per capita by 15.9% of the sample mean and lowers the number of new revolving lines of credit by 2.2% of the sample mean. At the same time, regulations of third-party debt collectors do not affect secured consumer credit, which is consistent with the fact that debt collectors are used to enforce unsecured debt contracts. Stricter regulations of debt collectors decrease credit card recovery rates (by 9% of the sample mean for each additional restriction on debt collection activity), which appears to be the transmission mechanism by which debt collectors affect credit supply. The effect of debt collection laws is significant even when average credit scores are controlled for, meaning that consumer credit risk is not the only driver of credit access. My results can help explain the existence of a large market for unsecured consumer credit and shed light on contract enforcement in this market.

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    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 13-38.

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    Length: 66 pages
    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision: 25 Aug 2014
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:13-38
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    Web page: http://www.philadelphiafed.org/

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    1. Athreya, Kartik & Sánchez, Juan M. & Tam, Xuan S. & Young, Eric R., 2012. "Bankruptcy and delinquency in a model of unsecured debt," Working Papers 2012-042, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 30 Jan 2014.
    2. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," NBER Working Papers 13265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Astrid A. Dick & Andreas Lehnert, 2010. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Market Competition," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(2), pages 655-686, 04.
    4. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1997. "Default and Renegotiation: A Dynamic Model of Debt," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1792, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    5. Ian Domowitz & Robert L. Sartain, 1999. "Determinants of the Consumer Bankruptcy Decision," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 403-420, 02.
    6. Bolton, Patrick & Scharfstein, David S, 1990. "A Theory of Predation Based on Agency Problems in Financial Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 93-106, March.
    7. Reint Gropp & John Karl Scholz & Michelle White, 1996. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Supply and Demand," NBER Working Papers 5653, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Morse, Adair, 2011. "Payday lenders: Heroes or villains?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(1), pages 28-44, October.
    9. Scott Fay & Erik Hurst & Michelle J. White, 2002. "The Household Bankruptcy Decision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 706-718, June.
    10. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 175-200, Fall.
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