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Bankruptcy and Delinquency in a Model of Unsecured Debt

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This paper documents and interprets two facts central to the dynamics of informal default or \"delinquency\" on unsecured consumer debt. First, delinquency does not mean a persistent cessation of payment. In particular, we observe that for individuals 60 to 90 days late on payments, 85% make payments during the next quarter that allow them to avoid entering more severe delinquency. Second, many in delinquency (40%) have smaller debt obligations one quarter later. To understand these facts, we develop a theoretically and institutionally plausible model of debt delinquency and bankruptcy. Our model reproduces the dynamics of delinquency and suggests an interpretation of the data in which lenders frequently (in roughly 40% of cases) reset the terms for delinquent borrowers, typically involving partial debt forgiveness, rather than a blanket imposition of the \"penalty rates\" most unsecured credit contracts specify.

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  • Kartik B. Athreya & Juan M. Sanchez & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2016. "Bankruptcy and Delinquency in a Model of Unsecured Debt," Working Paper 16-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:16-12
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    1. Natalia Kovrijnykh & Igor Livshits, 2017. "Screening As A Unified Theory Of Delinquency, Renegotiation, And Bankruptcy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 58, pages 499-527, May.
    2. Hatchondo, Juan Carlos & Martinez, Leonardo, 2009. "Long-duration bonds and sovereign defaults," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 117-125, September.
    3. Julio Dávila & Jay H. Hong & Per Krusell & José‐Víctor Ríos‐Rull, 2012. "Constrained Efficiency in the Neoclassical Growth Model With Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Shocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(6), pages 2431-2467, November.
    4. Carlos Hatchondo, Juan & Martinez, Leonardo & Sánchez, Juan M., 2015. "Mortgage defaults," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 173-190.
    5. Fulford, Scott L., 2015. "How important is variability in consumer credit limits?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 42-63.
    6. Satyajit Chatterjee & Burcu Eyigungor, 2012. "Maturity, Indebtedness, and Default Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2674-2699, October.
    7. Ulf von Lilienfeld-Toal & Dilip Mookherjee, 2010. "The Political Economy of Debt Bondage," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 44-84, August.
    8. Wenli Li & Michelle J. White & Ning S. Zhu, 2010. "Did bankruptcy reform cause mortgage default rates to rise?," Working Papers 10-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    9. Kartik Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2012. "A Quantitative Theory of Information and Unsecured Credit," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 153-183, July.
    10. Kartik Arthreya & Juan Sanchez & Xuan Tam & Eric Young, 2015. "Labor Market Upheaval, Default Regulation, and Consumer Debt," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(1), pages 32-52, January.
    11. Natalia Kovrijnykh & Balázs Szentes, 2007. "Equilibrium Default Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 403-446.
    12. Irina A. Telyukova & Randall Wright, 2008. "A Model of Money and Credit, with Application to the Credit Card Debt Puzzle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(2), pages 629-647.
    13. Kartik B. Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2009. "Are harsh penalties for default really better?," Working Paper 09-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    14. Kyle F. Herkenhoff & Lee E. Ohanian, 2012. "Foreclosure delay and U.S. unemployment," Working Papers 2012-017, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    15. Chatterjee, Satyajit & Gordon, Grey, 2012. "Dealing with consumer default: Bankruptcy vs garnishment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(S), pages 1-16.
    16. Andreas Lehnert & Dean M. Maki, 2002. "Consumption, debt and portfolio choice: testing the effect of bankruptcy law," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2002-14, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    17. Athreya, Kartik B., 2008. "Default, insurance, and debt over the life-cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 752-774, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Charles Ka Yui LEUNG & Joe Cho Yiu NG, 2018. "Macro Aspects of Housing," ISER Discussion Paper 1030, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    2. Viktar Fedaseyeu, 2012. "Debt Collection Agencies and the Supply of Consumer Credit," Working Papers 442, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    3. Gordon, Grey, 2017. "Optimal bankruptcy code: A fresh start for some," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 123-149.
    4. Jeremy Greenwood & Juan M. Sanchez & Cheng Wang, 2010. "Financing Development: The Role of Information Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1875-1891, September.
    5. Gajendran Raveendranathan, 2018. "Improved Matching, Directed Search, and Bargaining in the Credit Card Market," 2018 Meeting Papers 112, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Lukasz A. Drozd & Ricardo Serrano-Padial, 2013. "Modeling the credit card revolution: the role of debt collection and informal bankruptcy," Working Papers 13-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    7. Viktar Fedaseyeu & Robert M. Hunt, 2014. "The economics of debt collection: enforcement of consumer credit contracts," Working Papers 14-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    8. Kartik Arthreya & Juan Sanchez & Xuan Tam & Eric Young, 2015. "Labor Market Upheaval, Default Regulation, and Consumer Debt," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(1), pages 32-52, January.
    9. Kim, Hyeongjun & Cho, Hoon & Ryu, Doojin, 2018. "An empirical study on credit card loan delinquency," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 437-449.
    10. Don Schlagenhauf & Bryan Noeth & Carlos Garriga, 2015. "Aggregate and Distributional Dynamics of Consumer Credit in the U. S," 2015 Meeting Papers 1095, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    11. Natalia Kovrijnykh & Igor Livshits, 2017. "Screening As A Unified Theory Of Delinquency, Renegotiation, And Bankruptcy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 58, pages 499-527, May.
    12. Lukasz A. Drozd & Ricardo Serrano-Padial, 2017. "Modeling the Revolving Revolution: The Debt Collection Channel," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(3), pages 897-930, March.
    13. Igor Livshits, 2015. "Recent Developments In Consumer Credit And Default Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(4), pages 594-613, September.
    14. Bechlioulis, Alexandros & Brissimis, Sophocles, 2014. "Consumer default and optimal consumption decisions," MPRA Paper 56864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Kartik B. Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2014. "Loan Guarantees for Consumer Credit Markets," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue 4Q, pages 297-352.
    16. Kartik B. Athreya & Xuan S. Tam & Eric R. Young, 2012. "Debt default and the insurance of labor income risks," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, vol. 98(4Q), pages 255-307.
    17. Jiseob Kim, 2020. "How Unsecured Credit Policies Influence Mortgage and Unsecured Loan Defaults," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 52(5), pages 1271-1304, August.
    18. Gordon, Grey, 2017. "Optimal bankruptcy code: A fresh start for some," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 123-149.
    19. Bechlioulis, Alexandros P. & Brissimis, Sophocles N., 2019. "Consumer debt non-payment and the borrowing constraint: Implications for consumer behavior," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 161-172.
    20. Paulo Rogério Faustino Matos, 2019. "The role of household debt and delinquency decisions in consumption-based asset pricing," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 179-203, June.
    21. Xuan Tam & Eric Young & Kartik Athreya, 2013. "A Quantitative Theory of Credit Scoring," 2013 Meeting Papers 382, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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