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Bankruptcy: Past Puzzles, Recent Reforms, and the Mortgage Crisis

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  • Michelle J. White

Abstract

This paper discusses four bankruptcy-related policy issues. First, what is the economic rationale for having a bankruptcy procedure at all and what defines an economically efficient bankruptcy procedure? Second, why did the number of U.S. bankruptcy filings increase so dramatically between 1980 and 2005? Third, a major bankruptcy reform went into effect in the U.S. in 2005--what did it do and how did it affect credit and mortgage markets? Finally, the paper discusses the mortgage crisis, the high social cost of foreclosures, and the difficulty of avoiding foreclosure by voluntarily renegotiation of mortgage contracts, even when such renegotiations are in the joint interest of debtors and creditors. I also discuss the pros and cons of government programs to refinance mortgages and the possibility of giving bankruptcy judges new power to change the terms of mortgage contracts in bankruptcy.

Suggested Citation

  • Michelle J. White, 2008. "Bankruptcy: Past Puzzles, Recent Reforms, and the Mortgage Crisis," NBER Working Papers 14549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14549 Note: LE
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Reint Gropp & John Karl Scholz & Michelle J. White, 1997. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Supply and Demand," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 217-251.
    2. Rand, John & Tarp, Finn & Coung, Tran Tien & Tam, Nguyen Thanh, 2009. "SME Access to Credit," MPRA Paper 29467, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185.
    4. David B. Gross, 2002. "An Empirical Analysis of Personal Bankruptcy and Delinquency," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 15(1), pages 319-347, March.
    5. Michelle J. White & Ning Zhu, 2010. "Saving Your Home in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(1), pages 33-61, January.
    6. Kristopher S. Gerardi & Adam Hale Shapiro & Paul S. Willen, 2007. "Subprime outcomes: risky mortgages, homeownership experiences, and foreclosures," Working Papers 07-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    7. John Armour & Douglas Cumming, 2008. "Bankruptcy Law and Entrepreneurship," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 303-350.
    8. Scott Fay & Erik Hurst & Michelle J. White, 2002. "The Household Bankruptcy Decision," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(3), pages 706-718, June.
    9. Berkowitz, Jeremy & Hynes, Richard, 1999. "Bankruptcy Exemptions and the Market for Mortgage Loans," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 809-830, October.
    10. Fan, Wei & White, Michelle J, 2003. "Personal Bankruptcy and the Level of Entrepreneurial Activity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 543-567, October.
    11. Charles Grant & Winfried Koeniger, 2009. "Redistributive Taxation and Personal Bankruptcy in U.S. States," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(3), pages 445-467, August.
    12. John M. Barron & Michael E. Staten & Stephanie M. Wilshusen, 2002. "The Impact Of Casino Gambling On Personal Bankruptcy Filing Rates," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(4), pages 440-455, October.
    13. Mark Doms & John Krainer, 2007. "Innovations in mortgage markets and increased spending on housing," Working Paper Series 2007-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    14. Adam B. Ashcraft & Astrid A. Dick & Donald P. Morgan, 2007. "The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act: means-testing or mean spirited?," Staff Reports 279, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    15. Jeremy Berkowitz & Michelle J. White, 2004. "Bankruptcy and Small Firms' Access to Credit," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(1), pages 69-84, Spring.
    16. Lawrence R. Cordell & Karen E. Dynan & Andreas Lehnert & J. Nellie Liang & Eileen Mauskopf, 2008. "The incentives of mortgage servicers: myths and realities," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2008-46, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    17. Donald P. Morgan & Benjamin Iverson & Matthew Botsch, 2008. "Seismic effects of the bankruptcy reform," Staff Reports 358, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • K35 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Personal Bankruptcy Law
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets

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