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A quantitative theory of information and unsecured credit

Author

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  • Kartik B. Athreya
  • Xuan S. Tam
  • Eric R. Young

Abstract

Over the past three decades five striking features of aggregates in the unsecured credit market have been documented: (1) rising availability of credit along both the intensive and extensive margins, (2) rising debt accumulation, (3) rising bankruptcy rates and discharge in bankruptcy, (4) rising dispersion in interest rates across households, and (5) the emergence of a discount for borrowers with good credit ratings. We show that all five outcomes are quantitatively consistent with improvements in the ability of lenders to observe borrower characteristics. Part of our contribution is the development of an algorithm for computing equilibria with asymmetric information and individualized pricing. From a welfare perspective, our main finding is that more information is better ex ante, even though better information can rule out pooling outcomes that some groups might find beneficial ex-post.

Suggested Citation

  • Kartik B. Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2011. "A quantitative theory of information and unsecured credit," Working Paper 08-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:08-06
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bankruptcy;

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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