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Author:Agarwal, Sumit 

Working Paper
Benefits of relationship banking: evidence from consumer credit markets

This paper empirically examines the benefits of relationship banking to banks, in the context of consumer credit markets. Using a unique panel dataset that contains comprehensive information about the relationships between a large bank and its credit card customers, we estimate the effects of relationship banking on the customers' default, attrition, and utilization behavior. We find that relationship accounts exhibit lower probabilities of default and attrition, and have higher utilization rates, compared to non-relationship accounts, ceteris paribus. Such effects become more pronounced with ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2010-05

Working Paper
Does the Relative Income of Peers Cause Financial Distress? Evidence from Lottery Winners and Neighboring Bankruptcies

SUPERSEDED BY WP 18-22 We examine whether relative income differences among peers can generate financial distress. Using lottery winnings as plausibly exogenous variations in the relative income of peers, we find that the dollar magnitude of a lottery win of one neighbor increases subsequent borrowing and bankruptcies among other neighbors. We also examine which factors may mitigate lenders? bankruptcy risk in these neighborhoods. We show that bankruptcy filers can obtain secured but not unsecured debt, and lenders provide secured credit to low-risk but not high-risk debtors. In addition, we ...
Working Papers , Paper 18-16

Journal Article
Homebuilders, Affiliated Financing Arms and the Mortgage Crisis

The authors? findings indicate that homebuilder financing affiliates do make loans to observably riskier borrowers, but the loans made by homebuilders have lower delinquency rates than those made by unaffiliated lenders, even when loan and borrower characteristics are held constant.
Economic Perspectives , Issue Q II , Pages 38-51

Working Paper
The age of reason: financial decisions over the lifecycle

The sophistication of financial decisions varies with age: middle-aged adults borrow at lower interest rates and pay fewer fees compared to both younger and older adults. We document this pattern in ten financial markets. The measured effects cannot be explained by observed risk characteristics. The sophistication of financial choices peaks around age 53 in our cross-sectional data. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that financial sophistication rises and then falls with age, although the patterns that we observe represent a mix of age effects and cohort effects.
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-07-05

Working Paper
Do financial counseling mandates improve mortgage choice and performance? Evidence from a legislative experiment

We explore the effects of mandatory third-party review of mortgage contracts on the terms, availability, and performance of mortgage credit. Our study is based on a legislative experiment in which the State of Illinois required ?high-risk? mortgage applicants acquiring or refinancing properties in 10 specific zip codes to submit loan offers from state-licensed lenders to review by HUD-certified financial counselors. We document that the legislation led to declines in both the supply of and demand for credit in the treated areas. Controlling for the salient characteristics of the remaining ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-09-07

Working Paper
Perverse incentives at the banks? Evidence from a natural experiment

Incentive provision is a central question in modern economic theory. During the run up to the financial crisis, many banks attempted to encourage loan underwriting by giving out incentive packages to loan officers. Using a unique data set on small business loan officer compensation from a major commercial bank, we test the model?s predictions that incentive compensation increases loan origination, but may induce the loan officers to book more risky loans. We find that the incentive package amounts to a 47% increase in loan approval rate, and a 24% increase in default rate. Overall, we find ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-09-08

Working Paper
Cognitive abilities and household financial decision making

We analyze the effects of cognitive abilities on two examples of consumer financial decisions where suboptimal behavior is well defined. The first example refers to consumers who transfer the entire balance from an existing credit card account to a new account, but use the new card for convenience transactions, resulting in higher interest charges. The second example refers to consumers who face higher APRs because they inaccurately estimate their property value on a home equity loan or line of credit application. We match individuals from the US military for whom we have detailed test scores ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2010-16

Working Paper
Do consumers choose the right credit contracts?

A number of studies have pointed to various mistakes that consumers might make in their consumption-saving and financial decisions. We utilize a unique market experiment conducted by a large U.S. bank to assess how systematic and costly such mistakes are in practice. The bank offered consumers a choice between two credit card contracts, one with an annual fee but a lower interest rate and one with no annual fee but a higher interest rate. To minimize their total interest costs net of the fee, consumers expecting to borrow a sufficiently large amount should choose the contract with the fee, ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-06-11

Working Paper
The reaction of consumer spending and debt to tax rebates; evidence from consumer credit data

The authors use a new panel data set of credit card accounts to analyze how consumers responded to the 2001 federal income tax rebates. They estimate the monthly response of credit card payments, spending, and debt, exploiting the unique, randomized timing of the rebate disbursement. They find that, on average, consumers initially saved some of the rebate by increasing their credit card payments and thereby paying down debt. But soon afterward their spending increased, counter to the canonical permanent-income model. Spending rose most for consumers who were initially most likely to be ...
Working Papers , Paper 07-34

Journal Article
How Did the Great Recession Affect Payday Loans?

This article answers two important questions: Did payday borrowing rise during the Great Recession? And did the use of payday loans expand beyond low-income borrowers to include more middle-income borrowers?
Economic Perspectives , Issue 2 , Pages 1-12

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