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Modeling the credit card revolution: the role of debt collection and informal bankruptcy
In the data, most consumer defaults on unsecured credit are informal and the lending industry devotes significant resources to debt collection. We develop a new theory of credit card lending that takes these two features into account. The two key elements of our model are moral hazard and costly state verification that relies on the use of information technology. We show that the model gives rise to a novel channel through which IT progress can affect outcomes in the credit markets, and argue that this channel can be critical to understand the trends associated with the rapid expansion of ...
Financial Contracting with Enforcement Externalities
We study the negative feedback loop between the aggregate default rate and the efficacy of enforcement in a model of debt-financed entrepreneurial activity. The novel feature of our model is that enforcement capacity is accumulated ex ante and thus subject to depletion ex post. We characterize the effect of shocks that deplete enforcement resources on the aggregate default rate and credit supply. In the model default decisions by entrepreneurs are strategic complements, leading to multiple equilibria. We propose a global game selection to overcome equilibrium indeterminacy and show how shocks ...
Credit Enforcement Cycles
Empirical evidence suggests that widespread financial distress, by disrupting enforcement of credit contracts, can be self-propagatory and adversely affect the supply of credit. We propose a unifying theory that models the interplay between enforcement, borrower default decisions, and the provision of credit. The central tenets of our framework are the presence of capacity constrained enforcement and borrower heterogeneity. We show that, despite heterogeneity, borrowers tend to coordinate their default choices, leading to fragility and to credit rationing. Our model provides a rationale for ...
Modeling the Revolving Revolution: The Debt Collection Channel
We investigate the role of information technology (IT) in the collection of delinquent consumer debt. We argue that the widespread adoption of IT by the debt collection industry in the 1990s contributed to the observed expansion of unsecured risky lending such as credit cards. Our model stresses the importance of delinquency and private information about borrower solvency. The prevalence of delinquency implies that the costs of debt collection must be borne by lenders to sustain incentives to repay debt. IT mitigates informational asymmetries, allowing lenders to concentrate collection ...
Financial contracting with enforcement externalities
Contract enforceability in financial markets often depends on the aggregate actions of agents. For example, high default rates in credit markets can delay legal enforcement or reduce the value of collateral, incentivizing even more defaults and potentially affecting credit supply. We develop a theory of credit provision in which enforceability of individual contracts is linked to aggregate behavior. The central element behind this link is enforcement capacity, which is endogenously determined by investments in enforcement infrastructure. Our paper sheds new light on the emergence of credit ...