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Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending

  • William Adams
  • Liran Einav
  • Jonathan Levin

We present new evidence on consumer liquidity constraints and the credit market conditions that might give rise to them. Our analysis is based on unique data from a large auto sales company that serves the subprime market. We first document the role of short-term liquidity in driving purchasing behavior, including sharp increases in demand during tax rebate season and a high sensitivity to minimum down payment requirements. We then explore the informational problems facing subprime lenders. We find that default rates rise significantly with loan size, providing a rationale for lenders to impose loan caps because of moral hazard. We also find that borrowers at the highest risk of default demand the largest loans, but the degree of adverse selection is mitigated substantially by effective risk-based pricing.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13067.

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Date of creation: Apr 2007
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Publication status: published as William Adams & Liran Einav & Jonathan Levin, 2009. "Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 49-84, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13067
Note: EFG IO LE LS PE
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  1. Jappelli, Tullio, 1990. "Who Is Credit Constrained in the U.S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-34, February.
  2. Wendy Edelberg, 2004. "Testing for adverse selection and moral hazard in consumer loan markets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-09, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  3. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," Documentos de Trabajo 80, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  4. Deaton, A., 1989. "Saving And Liquidity Constraints," Papers 153, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  5. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
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  8. Stephen Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 24-85, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  9. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  10. Orazio P. Attanasio & Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Ekaterini Kyriazidou, 2008. "Credit Constraints In The Market For Consumer Durables: Evidence From Micro Data On Car Loans," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 401-436, 05.
  11. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
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  13. Raj Chetty, 2005. "Why do Unemployment Benefits Raise Unemployment Durations? Moral Hazard vs. Liquidity," NBER Working Papers 11760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Jaffee, Dwight M & Russell, Thomas, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-66, November.
  15. F. Thomas Juster & Robert P. Shay, 1964. "Consumer Sensitivity to Finance Rates: An Empirical and Analytical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number just64-2, 07.
  16. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 630-49, November.
  17. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing unobservables: identifying information asymmetries with a consumer-credit field experiment," Proceedings 961, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  18. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Do Liquidity Constraints And Interest Rates Matter For Consumer Behavior? Evidence From Credit Card Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185, February.
  19. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2007. "Credit Elasticities in Less-Developed Economies: Implications for Microfinance," CEPR Discussion Papers 6071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Jaffee, Dwight & Stiglitz, Joseph, 1990. "Credit rationing," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 837-888 Elsevier.
  21. Wendy Edelberg, 2003. "Risk-based pricing of interest rates in household loan markets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-62, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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