IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Optimal Personal Bankruptcy Design: A Mirrlees Approach

  • Borys Grochulski

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

In this paper, we propose a theory of unsecured consumer credit and personal bankruptcy based on the optimal trade-off between incentives and insurance. We solve a fairly standard dynamic moral hazard problem, in which agents’ private effort decisions influence the life-cycle profiles of their earnings. We then show how the optimal allocation of individual effort and consumption can be implemented in a market equilibrium in which agents and intermediaries repeatedly trade in secured and unsecured debt instruments, and agents obtain (restricted) discharge of their unsecured debts in bankruptcy. Surprisingly, the structure of this equilibrium and the associated restrictions on debt discharge closely match the main qualitative features of personal credit markets and bankruptcy law that actually exist in the United States.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2007 Meeting Papers with number 1008.

in new window

Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed007:1008
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Albanesi, Stefania & Sleet, Christopher, 2003. "Dynamic Optimal Taxation with Private Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 4006, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos & Martin Shubik, 2001. "Default and Punishment in General Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1304, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. Fernandes, Ana & Phelan, Christopher, 2000. "A Recursive Formulation for Repeated Agency with History Dependence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 223-247, April.
  4. Kartik B. Athreya & Nicole B. Simpson, 2004. "Unsecured debt with public insurance : from bad to worse," Working Paper 03-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  5. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Makoto Nakajima & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2002. "A Quantitative Theory of Unsecured Consumer Credit with Risk of Default," Centro de Alti­simos Estudios Ri­os Pe©rez(CAERP) 2, Centro de Altisimos Estudios Rios Perez (CAERP).
  6. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2006. "Optimal Taxation with Endogenous Insurance Markets," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000445, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Timothy J. Kehoe & David K. Levine, 2006. "Bankruptcy and collateral in debt constrained markets," Staff Report 380, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Pagano, Marco & Jappelli, Tullio, 1993. " Information Sharing in Credit Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(5), pages 1693-1718, December.
  9. Mikhail Golosov & Aleh Tsyvinski, 2006. "Designing Optimal Disability Insurance: A Case for Asset Testing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 257-279, April.
  10. Gian Luca Clementi & Hugo Hopenhayn, . "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," GSIA Working Papers 2002-E9, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  11. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:1:p:149-185 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2001. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," NBER Working Papers 8314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Phelan, Christopher & Townsend, Robert M, 1991. "Computing Multi-period, Information-Constrained Optima," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(5), pages 853-81, October.
  14. Atkeson Andrew & Lucas Jr. , Robert E., 1995. "Efficiency and Equality in a Simple Model of Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 64-88, June.
  15. Reint Gropp & John Karl Scholz & Michelle White, 1996. "Personal Bankruptcy and Credit Supply and Demand," NBER Working Papers 5653, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Irina A. Telyukova & Randall Wright, 2006. "A Model of Money and Credit, with Application to the Credit Card Debt Puzzle," 2006 Meeting Papers 45, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. Kehoe, Timothy J & Levine, David K, 2001. "Liquidity Constrained Markets versus Debt Constrained Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(3), pages 575-98, May.
  18. Kahn, Charles M. & Mookherjee, Dilip, 1995. "Market failure with moral hazard and side trading," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 159-184, October.
  19. Rogerson, William P, 1985. "Repeated Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 69-76, January.
  20. Bizer, David S. & DeMarzo, Peter M., 1999. "Optimal Incentive Contracts When Agents Can Save, Borrow, and Default," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 241-269, October.
  21. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 2005. "Zero Expected Wealth Taxes: A Mirrlees Approach to Dynamic Optimal Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(5), pages 1587-1621, 09.
  22. A. Rampini, Adriano, 2005. "Default and aggregate income," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 225-253, June.
  23. Telyukova, Irina A., 2012. "Household Need for Liquidity and the Credit Card Debt Puzzle," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt0ww2c04z, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  24. Andrew Atkeson & Robert E Lucas, 2010. "On Efficient Distribution with Private Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2179, David K. Levine.
  25. Alberto Bisin & Adriano Rampini, 2006. "Exclusive contracts and the institution of bankruptcy," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 277-304, January.
  26. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," NBER Working Papers 13265, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Kehoe, Timothy J & Levine, David K, 1993. "Debt-Constrained Asset Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 865-88, October.
  28. Prescott, Edward C & Townsend, Robert M, 1984. "Pareto Optima and Competitive Equilibria with Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(1), pages 21-45, January.
  29. Townsend, Robert M., 1988. "Information constrained insurance : The revelation principle extended," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 411-450.
  30. Athreya, Kartik B., 2002. "Welfare implications of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1999," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(8), pages 1567-1595, November.
  31. Spear, Stephen E & Srivastava, Sanjay, 1987. "On Repeated Moral Hazard with Discounting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(4), pages 599-617, October.
  32. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Michele Tertilt, 2005. "Consumer Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start," Discussion Papers 04-011, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  33. Li, Wenli & Sarte, Pierre-Daniel, 2006. "U.S. consumer bankruptcy choice: The importance of general equilibrium effects," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 613-631, April.
  34. Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(114), pages 175-208, April.
  35. PETER M. DeMARZO & YULIY SANNIKOV, 2006. "Optimal Security Design and Dynamic Capital Structure in a Continuous-Time Agency Model," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(6), pages 2681-2724, December.
  36. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2000. "Efficiency, Equilibrium, and Asset Pricing with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 775-798, July.
  37. Michelle J. White, 2007. "Bankruptcy Reform and Credit Cards," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 175-200, Fall.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed007:1008. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.