The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act: Means-Testing or Mean Spirited?
28 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2007
Date Written: March 2007
Thousands of U.S. households filed for bankruptcy just before the bankruptcy law changed in 2005. That rush-to-file was more pronounced, we find, in states with more generous bankruptcy exemptions and lower credit scores. We take that finding as evidence that the new law effectively reduces exemptions, which in turn should reduce the "demand" for bankruptcy and the resulting losses to suppliers of consumer credit. We expect the savings to suppliers will be shared with borrowers by way of lower credit card rates, although credit card spreads have not yet fallen. If cheaper credit is the upside of the new law, the downside is reduced bankruptcy "insurance" against bad luck. The overall impact of the new law on the average household depends on how one weighs those two sides.
Keywords: bankruptcy, consumption smoothing, insurance, moral hazard
JEL Classification: G33, K35
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation