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The role of information in the rise in consumer bankruptcies

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  • Juan M. Sanchez

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan M. Sanchez, 2009. "The role of information in the rise in consumer bankruptcies," Working Paper 09-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:09-04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Xavier Gine & Jessica Goldberg & Dean Yang, 2012. "Credit Market Consequences of Improved Personal Identification: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2923-2954, October.
    2. Verónica Balzarotti & Alejandra Anastasi, 2013. "Does Competition for Novice Borrowers Hurt Access to Finance? An Analysis in a Context of High Risk and Low Outreach," Ensayos Económicos, Central Bank of Argentina, Economic Research Department, vol. 1(69), pages 101-149, December.
    3. Athreya, Kartik B. & Tam, Xuan S. & Young, Eric R., 2014. "Loan Guarantees for Consumer Credit Markets," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue 4Q, pages 297-352.
    4. N. Narajabad, Borghan, 2010. "Information Technology and the Rise of Household Bankruptcy," MPRA Paper 21058, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. repec:bcr:wpaper:201462 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2010. "Identification strategy : a field experiment on dynamic incentives in rural credit markets," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5438, The World Bank.

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    Keywords

    Bankruptcy ; Consumer credit;

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