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Consumer Credit with Over-Optimistic Borrowers

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Abstract

Do cognitive biases call for regulation to limit the use of credit? We incorporate over-optimistic and rational borrowers into an incomplete markets model with consumer bankruptcy. Over-optimists face worse income risk but incorrectly believe they are rational. Thus, both types behave identically. Lenders price loans forming beliefs—type scores—about borrower types. This gives rise to a tractable theory of type scoring. As lenders cannot screen types, borrowers are partially pooled. Over-optimists face cross subsidized interest rates but make financial mistakes: borrowing too much and defaulting too late. The induced welfare losses outweigh gains from cross subsidization. We calibrate the model to the U.S. and quantitatively evaluate policies to address these frictions: financial literacy education, reducing default cost, increasing borrowing costs, and debt limits. While some policies lower debt and filings, only financial literacy education eliminates over borrowing and improves welfare. Score-dependent borrowing limits can reduce financial mistakes but lower welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Florian Exler & Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michele Tertilt, 2021. "Consumer Credit with Over-Optimistic Borrowers," Working Papers 21-42, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:93457
    DOI: 10.21799/frbp.wp.2021.42
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Consumer Credit With Over-Optimistic Borrowers
      by Christian Zimmermann in NEP-DGE blog on 2020-12-21 19:08:44

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    Cited by:

    1. Almut Balleer & Georg Duernecker & Susanne K. Forstner & Johannes Goensch, 2021. "The Effects of Biased Labor Market Expectations on Consumption, Wealth Inequality, and Welfare," CESifo Working Paper Series 9326, CESifo.
    2. Dávila, Eduardo & Walther, Ansgar, 2021. "Prudential policy with distorted beliefs," ESRB Working Paper Series 130, European Systemic Risk Board.
    3. Exler, Florian & Hansak, Alexander, 2021. "Naïve Consumers and Financial Mistakes," VfS Annual Conference 2021 (Virtual Conference): Climate Economics 242359, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumer Credit; Over-Optimism; Financial Mistakes; Bankruptcy; Default; Financial Literacy; Financial Regulation; Type Score; Cross-Subsidization;
    All these keywords.

    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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