- Credit card debt puzzles (2005)
- Most US credit card holders revolve high-interest debt, often combined with substantial (i) asset accumulation by retirement, and (ii) low-rate liquid assets. Hyperbolic discounting can resolve only the former puzzle (Laibson et al., 2003). Bertaut and Haliassos (2002) proposed an 'accountant-shopper' framework for the latter. The current paper builds, solves, and simulates a fully-specified accountant-shopper model, to show that this framework can actually generate both types of co-existence, as well as target credit card utilization rates consistent with Gross and Souleles (2002). The benchmark model is compared to setups without self-control problems, with alternative mechanisms, and with impatient but fully rational shoppers. Klassifikation: E210, G110
- Equity culture and the distribution of wealth (2005)
- Wider participation in stockholding is often presumed to reduce wealth inequality. We measure and decompose changes in US wealth inequality between 1989 and 2001, a period of considerable spread of equity culture. Inequality in equity wealth is found to be important for net wealth inequality, despite equity's limited share. Our findings show that reduced wealth inequality is not a necessary outcome of the spread of equity culture. We estimate contributions of stockholder characteristics to levels and inequality in equity holdings, and we distinguish changes in configuration of the stockholder pool from changes in the influence of given characteristics. Our estimates imply that both the 1989 and the 2001 stockholder pools would have produced higher equity holdings in 1998 than were actually observed for 1998 stockholders. This arises from differences both in optimal holdings and in financial attitudes and practices, suggesting a dilution effect of the boom followed by a cleansing effect of the downturn. Cumulative gains and losses in stockholding are shown to be significantly influenced by length of household investment horizon and portfolio breadth but, controlling for those, use of professional advice is either insignificant or counterproductive. JEL Classification: E21, G11
- Household debt and social interactions : [Version 1 März 2012] (2012)
- Debt-induced crises, including the subprime, are usually attributed exclusively to supply-side factors. We examine the role of social influences on debt culture, emanating from perceived average income of peers. Utilizing unique information from a household survey representative of the Dutch population, that circumvents the issue of defining the social circle, we consider collateralized, consumer, and informal loans. We find robust social effects on borrowing, especially among those who consider themselves poorer than their peers; and on indebtedness, suggesting a link to financial distress. We employ a number of approaches to rule out spurious associations and to handle correlated effects.
- Household debt and social interactions : [Version 18 Januar 2013] (2013)
- Debt-induced crises, including the subprime, are usually attributed exclusively to supply-side factors. We uncover an additional factor contributing to debt culture, namely social influences emanating from the perceived average income of peers. Using unique information from a representative household survey of the Dutch population that circumvents the need to define the social circle, we consider collateralized, consumer, and informal loans. We find robust social effects on borrowing – especially among those who consider themselves poorer than their peers – and on indebtedness, suggesting a link to financial distress. We check the robustness of our results using several approaches to rule out spurious associations and handle correlated effects.
- Salary cuts and competitiveness (2013)
- There is a prevalent view outside Greece that promotion of competitiveness is tantamount with price reductions for Greek goods and services. Massive horizontal salary cuts appear, at first, to promote competitiveness by reducing unit labor costs and to reduce fiscal deficits by reducing the wage bill of the public sector. Upon closer look, however, horizontal salary cuts have been much greater than needed for Greek competitiveness, providing an alibi vis a vis the Troika for reforms that are still to be implemented, but at the same time undermining both competitiveness and the potential to reduce public debt through sustainable development.
- Löhne kürzen schadet der Wettbewerbsfähigkeit (2013)
- Außerhalb Griechenlands herrscht die Ansicht vor, dass eine höhere Wettbewerbsfähigkeit gleichbedeutend ist mit Preissenkungen für Güter und Dienstleistungen. Angesichts der begrenzten Bereitschaft in Griechenland, Reformen umzusetzen, fordern die Gläubiger drastische Lohnkürzungen, um die Produktivität zu erhöhen und die öffentlichen Ausgaben zu senken. Doch mit einer Kürzungsrunde nach der anderen lässt sich Wettbewerbsfähigkeit nicht erreichen. Umfangreiche flächendeckende Lohnkürzungen reduzieren vielmehr die erwartete Produktivität, da sie die besten Arbeitnehmer vertreiben, dem Rest Anreize zur Produktivität nehmen und neue gute Leute fernhalten.
- Prodigal Italy Greece Spain? (2011)
- Contrary to widely held perceptions, workers in the southern European states that are most afflicted by the sovereign debt crisis work hard. However, labor productivity in these countries lags far behind the EU average. Structural reforms to boost productivity should be at the top of the reform agenda.
- Verschwenderische Südeuropäer? (2011)
- Entgegen der allgemeinen Wahrnehmung arbeiten die Menschen in den südeuropäischen Ländern viel. Ihre durchschnittliche Arbeitsproduktivität liegt jedoch weit unter dem EU-Durchschnitt. Strukturelle Reformen zur Steigerung der Arbeitsproduktivität sollten die höchste Priorität haben.
- Incompatible european partners? Cultural predispositions and household financial behavior : [Version 30 June 2014] (2014)
- The Eurozone fiscal crisis has created pressure for institutional harmonization, but skeptics argue that cultural predispositions can prevent convergence in behavior. Our paper derives a robust cultural classification of European countries and utilizes unique data on natives and immigrants to Sweden. Classification based on genetic distance or on Hofstede’s cultural dimensions fails to identify a single ‘southern’ culture but points to a ‘northern’ culture. Significant differences in financial behavior are found across cultural groups, controlling for household characteristics. Financial behavior tends to converge with longer exposure to common institutions, but is slowed down by longer exposure to original institutions.