Auto Dealer Loan Intermediation: Consumer Behavior and Competitive Effects
75 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2020 Last revised: 19 May 2022
Date Written: November 2020
This paper studies the intermediation of auto loans through auto dealers using new and comprehensive administrative data. The arrangements between auto dealers and lenders incentivize dealers to increase loan prices. We leverage details of the corresponding contracts to demonstrate that many consumers are less responsive to finance charges than to vehicle charges. Taking this behavior into account, we estimate an equilibrium model of dealer price setting and lender competition. We explore counterfactuals where dealers have no discretion to price loans and final rates are set by lenders instead. We find large gains in consumer surplus from such a policy.
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