SAFE Research Web Seminar: Carlo Wix (Federal Reserve Board)

When:15 July 2020
, 12:30
 - 13:30

Speaker: Carlo Wix (Federal Reserve Board)

Title: The COVID-19 Shock and Consumer Credit: Evidence from Credit Card Data (joint work with Akos Horvath and Benjamin Kay)


We use monthly credit card data from the Federal Reserve’s Y-14M reports to study the early impact of the COVID-19 shock on the use and availability of consumer credit. First, we find that in counties severely affected by the pandemic, creditworthy borrowers reduce their credit card balances and credit card transactions, while the least creditworthy borrowers increase their outstanding balances. Second, while both local pandemic severity and non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) have a significantly negative effect on credit use, the pandemic itself is the main driver. Third, we report a drastic reduction in credit card originations, which is more pronounced in counties affected by pandemic severity and in counties with more stringent NPIs. Finally, we find a reduction in the credit limits and an increase in the APR spreads of newly issued credit cards to the riskiest borrowers, which is consistent with a “flight-to-safety” response of banks to the COVID-19 shock.

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