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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.

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

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

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