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Consumer Credit: Too Much or Too Little (or Just Right)?

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  • Jonathan Zinman

Abstract

The intersection of research and policy on consumer credit often has a Goldilocks feel. Some researchers and policymakers posit that consumer credit markets produce too much credit. Other researchers and policymakers posit that markets produce too little credit. I review theories and evidence on inefficient consumer credit supply. For each of eight classes of theories I sketch some of the leading models and summarize any convincing empirical tests of those models. I also discuss more "circumstantial" evidence that does not map tightly into a particular model but has the potential to shed light on, or obscure, answers to key questions. Overall there is a lack of convincing evidence on whether markets err, and in which direction. We do not yet understand whether and under what conditions markets over-supply or under-supply credit, much less why.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Consumer Credit: Too Much or Too Little (or Just Right)?," NBER Working Papers 19682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19682
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G23 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • 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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