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Liquidity Constraints and Their Causes: Evidence from Subprime Lending

  • Liran Einav

    (Stanford University)

  • Jonathan Levin

    (Stanford University)

  • William Adams

    (Citigroup)

We present new evidence on consumer liquidity constraints and the credit market conditions that might give rise to them. Our analysis is based on unique data from a large auto sales and financing company that serves the subprime market. We first document the role of short-term liquidity in driving purchasing behavior, including sharp increases in demand during tax rebate season and a high sensitivity to minimum down payment requirements. We then explore the informational problems facing subprime lenders. We find that default rates rise significantly with loan size, providing a rationale for lenders to impose loan caps because of moral hazard. We also find that borrowers at the highest risk of default demand the largest loans, but the degree of adverse selection is largely mitigated by effective risk-based pricing. Finally, we show that state interest rate caps may play a role in tightening liquidity constraints.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2007 Meeting Papers with number 52.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed007:52
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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  1. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  2. Dwight M. Jaffee & Thomas Russell, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-666.
  3. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
  4. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  5. Michael Rothschild & Joseph Stiglitz, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 629-649.
  6. Deaton, Angus, 1991. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(5), pages 1221-48, September.
  7. Wendy Edelberg, 2003. "Risk-based pricing of interest rates in household loan markets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-62, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Nicholas S. Souleles & Jonathan A. Parker & David S. Johnson, 2006. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1589-1610, December.
  9. Wendy Edelberg, 2004. "Testing for adverse selection and moral hazard in consumer loan markets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-09, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1991. "The Failure of Competition in the Credit Card Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 50-81, March.
  11. Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "A Theory of the Consumption Function, with and without Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 23-45, Summer.
  12. Tullio Jappelli, 1990. "Who is Credit Constrained in the U. S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-234.
  13. 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.
  14. F. Thomas Juster & Robert P. Shay, 1964. "Consumer Sensitivity to Finance Rates: An Empirical and Analytical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number just64-2, September.
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