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A tale of two commitments: equilibrium default and temptation

  • Nakajima, Makoto

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia)

I construct the life-cycle model with equilibrium default and preferences featuring temptation and self-control. The model provides quantitatively similar answers to positive questions such as the causes of the observed rise in debt and bankruptcies and macroeconomic implications of the 2005 bankruptcy reform, as the standard model without temptation. However, the temptation model provides contrasting welfare implications, because of overborrowing when the borrowing constraint is relaxed. Specifically, the 2005 bankruptcy reform has an overall negative welfare effect, according to the temptation model, while the effect is positive in the no-temptation model. As for the optimal default punishment, welfare of the agents without temptation is maximized when defaulting results in severe punishment, which provides a strong commitment to repaying and thus a lower default premium. On the other hand, welfare of agents with temptation is maximized when weak punishment leads to a tight borrowing constraint, which provides a commitment against overborrowing.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 14-1.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 11 Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:14-1
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  1. Orazio P. Attanasio & Guglielmo Weber, 1994. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," NBER Working Papers 4795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2008. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," NBER Working Papers 14052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Benjamin A. Malin, 2007. "Hyperbolic discounting and uniform savings floors," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-59, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Ramsey Meets Laibson In The Neoclassical Growth Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1125-1152, November.
  5. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 175-200, Fall.
  6. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," NBER Working Papers 13265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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