Spending responses to state sales tax holidays
Every year over 20 states offer sales tax holidays (STHs) on specific items like clothes, shoes and other items to encourage consumption, affecting over 100 million consumers. We use a unique dataset of credit cards transaction to study the spending response to these holidays. Using a diff-in-diff methodology, we find that STHs increase overall daily spending by 8%, with large percentage increases in spending on children?s clothes and shoes of 193% and 98% respectively. Consumers with children increase spending more during STHs. Our estimates of price elasticities range from 6 for big box ...
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 ...
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 ...
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.
The reaction of consumer spending and debt to tax rebates – evidence from consumer credit data
We use a new panel dataset of credit card accounts to analyze how consumers responded to the 2001 federal income tax rebates. We estimate the monthly response of credit card payments, spending, and debt, exploiting the unique, randomized timing of the rebate disbursement. We find that on average consumers initially saved some of the rebate, by increasing their credit card payments and thereby paying down debt. But soon afterwards spending increased, counter to the canonical Permanent-Income model. For people whose most intensively used credit card account is in the sample, spending on that ...
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 ...
Policy Intervention in Debt Renegotiation: Evidence from the Home Affordable Modification Program
The main rationale for policy intervention in debt renegotiation is to enhance such activity when foreclosures are perceived to be inefficiently high. We examine the ability of the government to influence debt renegotiation by empirically evaluating the effects of the 2009 Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) that provided intermediaries (servicers) with sizeable financial incentives to renegotiate mortgages. A difference-in-difference strategy that exploits variation in program eligibility criteria reveals that the program generated an overall increase in the intensity of ...
Does it pay to read your junk mail? evidence of the effect of advertising on home equity credit choices
We examine the effect of direct mail (commonly referred to as junk mail) advertising on individual financial decisions by studying consumer choice of home equity debt contracts. Consistent with the theoretical predictions, we find that financial variables underlying the relative pricing of debt contracts are the leading factors explaining consumers home equity debt choice. Furthermore, we also find that the intended use of debt proceeds significantly impacts consumer choice. However, when we study a subset of consumers who received a direct mail solicitation for a particular debt contract ...
Market-based loss mitigation practices for troubled mortgages following the financial crisis
The meltdown in residential real-estate prices that commenced in 2006 resulted in unprecedented mortgage delinquency rates. Until mid-2009, lenders and servicers pursued their own individual loss mitigation practices without being significantly influenced by government intervention. Using a unique dataset that precisely identifies loss mitigation actions, we study these methods?liquidation, repayment plans, loan modification, and refinancing?and analyze their effectiveness. We show that the majority of delinquent mortgages do not enter any loss mitigation program or become a part of ...
The role of securitization in mortgage renegotiation
We study the effects of securitization on renegotiation of distressed residential mortgages over the current financial crisis. Unlike prior studies, we employ unique data that directly observe lender renegotiation actions and cover more than 60% of the U.S. mortgage market. Exploiting within-servicer variation in these data, we find that bank-held loans are 26% to 36% more likely to be renegotiated than comparable securitized mortgages (4.2 to 5.7% in absolute terms). Also, modifications of bank-held loans are more efficient: conditional on a modification, bank-held loans have lower ...