Accepted Papers

Journal of Financial Economics, Volume 150, Issue 2, November 2023

Debt-repayment flexibility should help temporarily liquidity-constrained households but not necessarily households struggling to save. In a natural experiment in which households can apply for free mortgage-repayment flexibility, I find that two-thirds of liquidity-constrained applicants with high-cost debt voluntarily restrict flexibility and forgo, on average, 4,070 EUR of low-cost liquidity. An overconsumption tendency reflecting self-control problems can explain the voluntary liquidity restrictions as well as the persistent liquidity constraints, the consumption drop at the predictable end of flexibility, and saving in other illiquid assets. Self-imposed liquidity constraints reflect characteristics instead of circumstances and reduce the potency of debt-forbearance offers in recessions.

Accepted for publication in the Review of Economics and Statistics

I study how intra-household frictions and anchoring contribute to the credit card debt puzzle, the co-holding of high-cost debt and low-yield liquid assets. First, I find couples co-hold 42 percent more as units than as individuals relative to income. Moreover, in a natural experiment, couples do not cooperate to reduce high-cost debt, suggesting that intra-household frictions contribute to co-holding. Second, I find individuals who regularly make credit card debt payments equal to or near the minimum account for 59 percent of individual co-holding. The evidence suggests anchoring to the minimum payment contributes to co-holding via these low payments.