Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending
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.
We thank Raj Chetty, Amy Finkelstein, Robert Hall, Richard Levin, and many seminar participants for suggestions and encouragement. Mark Jenkins provided stellar research assistance and Ricky Townsend greatly assisted our early data analysis. Einav and Levin acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and Levin acknowledges the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- The average purchaser finances around 90 percent of the price of the automobile, with the average loan size being around $11,000....
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