Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending

William Adams, Liran Einav, Jonathan Levin

NBER Working Paper No. 13067
Issued in April 2007
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Industrial Organization, Law and Economics, Labor Studies, Public Economics

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 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 mitigated substantially by effective risk-based pricing.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13067

Published: William Adams & Liran Einav & Jonathan Levin, 2009. "Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 49-84, March. citation courtesy of

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