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The role of information in the rise in consumer bankruptcies

  • Juan M. Sanchez

Consumer bankruptcies rose sharply over the last 20 years in the U.S. economy. During the same period, there was impressive technological progress in the information sector. This paper provides a theory to understand and quantify the role of improvements in information technologies in consumer credit markets. Informational frictions restrict the amount of debt that can be borrowed. In fact, in the equilibrium in which investing in information is too expensive, many households borrow such small amounts that the default risk is very low. When information costs drop and informational frictions vanish, those households borrow more and default is likely after a bad shock. Quantitative exercises show that information costs have a significant effect on the bankruptcy rate. Additionally, a drop in information costs generates changes in other variables (e.g. interest rate dispersion) similar to what has occurred over the last 20 years.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 09-04.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:09-04
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  1. Aguiar, Mark & Gopinath, Gita, 2006. "Defaultable debt, interest rates and the current account," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 64-83, June.
  2. Chatterjee, Satyajit & Corbae, Dean & Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor, 2008. "A finite-life private-information theory of unsecured consumer debt," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 142(1), pages 149-177, September.
  3. John G. Riley, 1976. "Informational Equilibrium," UCLA Economics Working Papers 071, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  9. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  10. Edelberg, Wendy, 2006. "Risk-based pricing of interest rates for consumer loans," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 2283-2298, November.
  11. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Makoto Nakajima & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2007. "A Quantitative Theory of Unsecured Consumer Credit with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(6), pages 1525-1589, November.
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  13. Ábrahám, Árpád & Cárceles-Poveda, Eva, 2010. "Endogenous trading constraints with incomplete asset markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(3), pages 974-1004, May.
  14. Kartik 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.
  15. Ana Castaneda & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2003. "Accounting for the U.S. Earnings and Wealth Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 818-857, August.
  16. Enrique G. Mendoza & Vivian Z. Yue, 2008. "A Solution to the Disconnect between Country Risk and Business Cycle Theories," NBER Working Papers 13861, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Enrique G. Mandoza & Vivian Z. Yue, 2008. "A solution to the default risk-business cycle disconnect," International Finance Discussion Papers 924, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  18. Victor Rios-Rull & Dean Corbae: & Satyajit Chatterjee, 2011. "A Theory of Credit Scoring and the Competitive Pricing of Default Risk," 2011 Meeting Papers 1115, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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