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Credit, Bankruptcy, and Aggregate Fluctuations

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  • Makoto Nakajima
  • José-Víctor Ríos-Rull

Abstract

We ask two questions related to how access to credit affects the nature of business cycles. First, does the standard theory of unsecured credit account for the high volatility and procyclicality of credit and the high volatility and countercyclicality of bankruptcy filings found in U.S. data? Yes, it does, but only if we explicitly model recessions as displaying countercyclical earnings risk (i.e., rather than having all households fare slightly worse than normal during recessions, we ensure that more households than normal fare very poorly). Second, does access to credit smooth aggregate consumption or aggregate hours worked, and if so, does it matter with respect to the nature of business cycles? No, it does not; in fact, consumption is 20 percent more volatile when credit is available. The interest rate premia increase in recessions because of higher bankruptcy risk discouraging households from using credit. This finding contradicts the intuition that access to credit helps households to smooth their consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Makoto Nakajima & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2014. "Credit, Bankruptcy, and Aggregate Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 20617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20617
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kyle F Herkenhoff, 2019. "The Impact of Consumer Credit Access on Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(6), pages 2605-2642.
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    5. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Madeira, Carlos, 2019. "Measuring the covariance risk of consumer debt portfolios," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 21-38.
    2. KOBAYASHI Keiichiro, 2016. "Persistent Demand Shortage Due to Household Debt," Discussion papers 16012, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    3. Madeira, Carlos, 2018. "Explaining the cyclical volatility of consumer debt risk using a heterogeneous agents model: The case of Chile," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 209-220.
    4. Jang, Youngsoo & Lee, Soyoung, 2019. "A Generalized Endogenous Grid Method for Models with the Option to Default," MPRA Paper 95721, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Samir Amine & Wilner Predelus, 2019. "The Persistence of the 2008-2009 Recession and Insolvency Filings in Canada," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 39(1), pages 84-93.
    6. Alexandros P. Bechlioulis & Sophocles N. Brissimis, 2021. "Are household consumption decisions affected by past due unsecured debt? Theory and evidence," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(2), pages 3040-3053, April.
    7. Carlos Madeira, 2016. "Explaining the Cyclical Volatility of Consumer Debt Risk," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 772, Central Bank of Chile.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • K35 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Personal Bankruptcy Law

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