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Author:Johnson, Kathleen W. 

Working Paper
Discovering the universe: measuring the role of finance companies in the U.S. economy

Credit to consumers and business is critical to the efficient functioning of the U.S. economy, and finance companies are a key source of such credit. Every five years, the Federal Reserve conducts a two-part survey: the Census of Finance Companies (CFC) to identify the universe of such firms and the Survey of Finance Companies (SFC) to obtain balance-sheet data from firms identified in the CFC. In 2010, this survey underwent a major revision that addressed both the absence of a comprehensive list frame and low response rates. A follow-up study of nonrespondents to the CFC was conducted to ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2013-13

Working Paper
End of the Line: Behavior of HELOC Borrowers Facing Payment Changes

An important question in the household finance literature is whether a change in required debt payments affects borrower behavior. One challenge in this literature has been identifying whether higher default rates observed after an increase in debt payments stem from the inability of borrowers to pay the higher amount, or the attrition of better borrowers in advance of the payment change. A related question is whether the higher default rate is a result of specific features of the debt product, or the type of borrower who chooses the product. We address both of these questions as they relate ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2015-73

Working Paper
Convenience or necessity? understanding the recent rise in credit card debt

Economist disagree whether the recent increase in credit card debt has been detrimental to U.S. household. However, many rely on a measure of revolving credit published by the Federal Reserve, which captures transactions in which a credit card is used because of its advantages over cash or a check. An increase in debt stemming from such convenience use likely would not signal greater financial vulnerability for households. In this paper, I present evidence that some of the significant increase in both the level of credit card debt and it growth from 1992 to 2001 was due to convenience use.
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2004-47

Working Paper
Auto Sales and Credit Supply

Vehicle purchases fell by more than 20 percent during the 2007-09 recession, and auto loan originations fell by a third. We show that vehicle purchases typically account for an outsized share of the contraction in economic activity during a recession, in part because a concurrent tightening in auto lending conditions makes car purchases less affordable for many households. We explore the link between lending conditions and vehicle purchases with a novel gauge of credit supply conditions--household perceptions of vehicle financing conditions as measured on the Reuters/University of Michigan ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2014-82

Working Paper
Do high debt payments hinder household consumption smoothing?

Recently, U.S. households have committed a rising share of disposable personal income to required principal and interest payments on household debt. Studies of the direct link between the household debt service ratio (DSR) and consumption show mixed results?perhaps because debt may instead alter the relationship between consumption and income. We explore this possibility by comparing the consumption smoothing behavior of households over the DSR distribution. We find that a high DSR alone does not indicate higher sensitivity of consumption to a change in income. However, we find evidence that ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2007-52

Working Paper
Credit constraints, consumer leasing and the automobile replacement decision

This paper presents a model of consumer automobile replacement in the presence of leasing. The model incorporates credit constraints to distinguish between the leasing and purchasing options. It demonstrates how leasing increases the probability that a household replaces its automobile and how households that lease choose higher quality automobiles. The qualitative choice model of the household's decision to lease provides support for the observation that households that lease face credit constraints. It also shows that although households that lease new automobiles are quite similar to those ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 1999-68

Working Paper
Are adjustable-rate mortgage borrowers borrowing constrained?

Past research argues that changes in adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) payments may lead households to cut back on consumption or to default on their mortgages. In this paper, we argue that these outcomes are more likely if ARM borrowers are borrowing constrained, and find that ARM borrowers exhibit characteristics and behavior that are consistent with being borrowing constrained. Although the demographic and financial characteristics of ARM and fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) borrowers are quite similar, ARM borrowers differ from FRM borrowers in their uses of credit and attitudes towards it. In ...
Finance and Economics Discussion Series , Paper 2011-21

Journal Article
Recent changes to a measure of U.S. household debt service

Changes in levels of aggregate household debt in the United States may contain information about the current state of the nation's economy and may affect its future direction. A commonly used measure of household indebtedness is the household debt service ratio (formerly known as the household debt service burden), published since 1980 by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Recent changes in financial markets have prompted a comprehensive revision of this statistic. This article describes the revision and introduces a new measure, the financial obligations ratio, which adds ...
Federal Reserve Bulletin , Volume 89 , Issue Oct , Pages 417-426

Journal Article
Survey of finance companies, 2000

Against a backdrop of robust economic activity, the finance company sector expanded briskly over the second half of the 1990s. The value of receivables held by finance companies in the United States rose nearly 50 percent, or about 11 percent a year, between 1996 and 2000. Business lending remained finance companies' major line of activity; the importance to the sector of consumer lending and leasing declined slightly, and the importance of real estate lending rose a bit. These and other findings from the Federal Reserve's mid-2000 benchmark survey of finance companies, as well as ...
Federal Reserve Bulletin , Volume 88 , Issue Jan , Pages 1-14

Journal Article
Recent developments in the credit card market and the financial obligations ratio

This article argues that three important developments in the credit card market over the period account for most of the rise in credit card payments relative to income and played a strong role in the rise of the total financial obligations ratio (FOR). First, improvements in credit scoring technology and the advent of risk based pricing of credit card debt have increased the share of households particularly lower income households with a credit card. Second, in the 1990s, credit card interest rates began to vary with changes in broader market interest rates, which in turn led to an especially ...
Federal Reserve Bulletin , Volume 91 , Issue Aut

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