Do Banks Pass Through Credit Expansions? The Marginal Profitability of Consumer Lending During the Great Recession

59 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2015

See all articles by Sumit Agarwal

Sumit Agarwal

National University of Singapore

Souphala Chomsisengphet

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

Neale Mahoney

University of Chicago Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Johannes Stroebel

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 24, 2015

Abstract

We examine the ability of policymakers to stimulate household borrowing and spending during the Great Recession by reducing banks’ cost of funds. Using panel data on 8.5 million U.S. credit card accounts and 743 credit limit regression discontinuities, we estimate the marginal propensity to borrow (MPB) for households with different FICO credit scores. We find substantial heterogeneity, with a $1 increase in credit limits raising total unsecured borrowing after 12 months by 59 cents for consumers with the lowest FICO scores (≤ 660) while having no effect on consumers with the highest FICO scores (> 740). We use the same credit limit regression discontinuities to estimate banks’ marginal propensity to lend (MPL) out of a decrease in their cost of funds. For the lowest FICO score households, higher credit limits quickly reduce marginal profits, limiting the pass-through of credit expansions to those households. We estimate that a 1 percentage point reduction in the cost of funds raises optimal credit limits by $127 for consumers with FICO scores below 660 versus $2,203 for consumers with FICO scores above 740. We conclude that banks’ MPL is lowest exactly for those households with the highest MPB, limiting the effectiveness of policies that aim to stimulate the economy by reducing banks’ cost of funds.

Suggested Citation

Agarwal, Sumit and Chomsisengphet, Souphala and Mahoney, Neale and Stroebel, Johannes, Do Banks Pass Through Credit Expansions? The Marginal Profitability of Consumer Lending During the Great Recession (September 24, 2015). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5521. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2676014

Sumit Agarwal

National University of Singapore ( email )

15 Kent Ridge Drive
Singapore, 117592
Singapore
8118 9025 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ushakrisna.com

Souphala Chomsisengphet

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) ( email )

400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20219
United States
202-649-5533 (Phone)

Neale Mahoney

University of Chicago Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773.702.9278 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Johannes Stroebel (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
40
Abstract Views
576
PlumX Metrics