Consumer Credit: Too Much or Too Little (or Just Right)?

Start Page



The intersection of research and policy on consumer credit often has a Goldilocks feel. Some researchers and policy makers posit that consumer credit markets produce too much credit. Other researchers and policy makers posit that markets produce too little credit. I review theories and evidence on inefficient consumer credit supply. For each of eight classes of theories I sketch some of the leading models and summarize any convincing empirical tests of those models. I also discuss more circumstantial evidence that does not map tightly onto a particular model but has the potential to shed light on, or obscure, answers to key questions. Overall there is a lack of convincing evidence on whether markets err and in which direction. We do not yet understand whether and under what conditions markets oversupply or undersupply credit, much less why.

Full text not available in ChicagoUnbound.