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The role of information in the rise in consumer bankruptcies

Listed author(s):
  • 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
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:09-04
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  1. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309.
  2. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michele Tertilt, 2003. "Consumer bankruptcy: a fresh start," Working Papers 617, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Jeremy Greenwood & Juan M. Sanchez & Cheng Wang, 2007. "Financing Development: The Role of Information Costs," NBER Working Papers 13104, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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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  7. John G. Riley, 1976. "Informational Equilibrium," UCLA Economics Working Papers 071, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2007. "A finite-life private-information theory of unsecured consumer debt," Working Papers 07-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  9. 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.
  10. Cristina Arellano, 2008. "Default Risk and Income Fluctuations in Emerging Economies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 690-712, June.
  11. 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.
  12. Allen N. Berger, 2002. "The economic effects of technological progress: evidence from the banking industry," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-50, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michele Tertilt, 2006. "Accounting for the Rise in Consumer Bankruptcies," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20066, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
  14. Edelberg, Wendy, 2006. "Risk-based pricing of interest rates for consumer loans," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 2283-2298, November.
  15. Gabriel Cuadra & Horacio Sapriza, 2006. "Sovereign Default, Terms of Trade and Interest Rates in Emerging Markets," Working Papers 2006-01, Banco de México.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
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