IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Are harsh penalties for default really better?

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

How might society ensure the allocation of credit to those who lack meaningful collateral? Two very different options that have each been pursued by a variety of societies through time and space are (i) relatively harsh penalties for default and, more recently, (ii) loan guarantee programs that allow borrowers to default subject to moderate consequences and use public funds to compensate lenders. The goal of this paper is to provide a quantitative statement about the relative desirability of these responses. Our findings are twofold. First, we show that under a wide array of circumstances, punishments harsh enough to ensure all debt is repaid improve welfare. With respect to loan guarantees, our findings suggest that such efforts are largely useless at best, and substantially harmful at worst. Generous loan guarantees virtually ensure substantially higher taxes — with transfers away from the non-defaulting poor to the defaulting middle-class — and greater deadweight loss from high equilibrium default rates. Taken as a whole, our findings suggest that current policy toward default is likely to be counterproductive, and that guarantees for consumption loans are not the answer.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://richmondfed.org/publications/research/working_papers/2009/wp_09-11.cfm
Download Restriction: no

File URL: http://richmondfed.org/publications/research/working_papers/2009/pdf/wp09-11.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 09-11.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:09-11
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.richmondfed.org/

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: http://www.richmondfed.org/publications/ Email:


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2001. "An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency," NBER Working Papers 8409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos & Martin Shubik, 2005. "Default and Punishment in General Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(1), pages 1-37, 01.
  3. Timothy J. Kehoe & David K. Levine, 1992. "Debt constrained asset markets," Working Papers 445, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Wang, Hung-Jen & White, Michelle J, 2000. "An Optimal Personal Bankruptcy Procedure and Proposed Reforms," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 255-86, January.
  5. Fatih Guvenen & Anthony Smith, 2010. "Inferring labor income risk from economic choices: an indirect inference approach," Staff Report 450, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. G. Constantinides, 1990. "Habit formation: a resolution of the equity premium puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1397, David K. Levine.
  7. Bryan R. Routledge & Stanley E. Zin, 2000. "Model Uncertainty and Liquidity," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1617, Econometric Society.
  8. Athreya, Kartik & Tam, Xuan S. & Young, Eric R., 2009. "Unsecured credit markets are not insurance markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 83-103, January.
  9. Livshits, Igor & MacGee, James & Tertilt, Michèle, 2011. "Costly Contracts and Consumer Credit," CEPR Discussion Papers 8580, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Paul S. Calem & Michael B. Gordy & Loretta J. Mester, 2005. "Switching costs and adverse selection in the market for credit cards: new evidence," Working Papers 05-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  11. Gourinchas, P.O. & Parker, J.A., 1997. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Working papers 9722, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  12. Krueger, Dirk & Uhlig, Harald, 2005. "Competitive risk sharing contracts with one-sided commitment," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/07, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  13. Klibanoff, Peter & Marinacci, Massimo & Mukerji, Sujoy, 2009. "Recursive smooth ambiguity preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 930-976, May.
  14. Claudio Campanale, 2011. "Learning, Ambiguity and Life-Cycle Portfolio Allocation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(2), pages 339-367, April.
  15. 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.
  16. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michele Tertilt, 2003. "Consumer bankruptcy: a fresh start," Working Papers 617, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  17. 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.
  18. David Andolfatto, 2002. "A Theory of Inalienable Property Rights," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 382-393, April.
  19. Hubbard, R. Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1994. "The importance of precautionary motives in explaining individual and aggregate saving," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 59-125, June.
  20. Larry G. Epstein & Martin Schneider, 2001. "Recursive Multiple-Priors," RCER Working Papers 485, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  21. William R. Zame, 1990. "Efficiency and the Role of Default When Security Markets are Incomplete," UCLA Economics Working Papers 585, UCLA Department of Economics.
  22. Mateos-Planas, Xavier & Seccia, Giulio, 2006. "Welfare implications of endogenous credit limits with bankruptcy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 2081-2115, November.
  23. Faruk Gul & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2001. "Temptation and Self-Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1403-1435, November.
  24. Bryan R. Routledge & Stanley E. Zin, 2003. "Generalized Disappointment Aversion and Asset Prices," NBER Working Papers 10107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Nadezhda Malysheva & John R. Walter, 2010. "How large has the federal financial safety net become?," Working Paper 10-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  26. Borys Grochulski, 2007. "Optimal Personal Bankruptcy Design: A Mirrlees Approach," 2007 Meeting Papers 1008, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  27. Kartik B. Athreya, 2004. "Shame as it ever was : stigma and personal bankruptcy," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 1-19.
  28. Gul, Faruk, 1991. "A Theory of Disappointment Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 667-86, May.
  29. Athreya, Kartik B., 2008. "Default, insurance, and debt over the life-cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 752-774, May.
  30. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 687-712, June.
  31. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
  32. Flodén, Martin, 2008. "A note on the accuracy of Markov-chain approximations to highly persistent AR(1) processes," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 99(3), pages 516-520, June.
  33. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
  34. Li, Wenli, 2002. "Entrepreneurship and government subsidies: A general equilibrium analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(11), pages 1815-1844, September.
  35. Michel A. Robe & Eva-Maria Steiger & Pierre-Armand Michel, 2006. "Penalties and Optimality in Financial Contracts: Taking Stock," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2006-013, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  36. Ian Vá¡squez, 2002. "A Retrospective on the Mexican Bailout," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 21(3), Winter.
  37. Fay, S. & Hurst, E. & White, M.J., 1998. "The Bankruptcy Decision: Does Stigma Matter?," Papers 98-01, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  38. Athreya, Kartik B., 2002. "Welfare implications of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1999," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 1567-1595, November.
  39. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2000. "Efficiency, Equilibrium, and Asset Pricing with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 775-798, July.
  40. repec:cto:journl:v:21:y:2002:i:3:p:369-393 is not listed on IDEAS
  41. Bewley, Truman, 1977. "The permanent income hypothesis: A theoretical formulation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 252-292, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:09-11. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Pascasio)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.