Unsecured Credit, Product Variety, and Unemployment Dynamics

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Revolving credit is the prime determinant of short-run household liquidity and comoves positively with product variety and negatively with unemployment. I develop a theory of feedback between revolving credit and product development and examine its ability to explain labor market volatility. Extending the Mortensen–Pissarides model with an endogenous borrowing constraint and free entry of monopolistically competitive firms reproduces stylized facts in the data and amplifies both productivity and financial shocks through mutual causality. Higher debt limits encourage firm entry and raise product variety (the entry channel), and greater variety makes default more costly and thereby raises the equilibrium debt level (the consumption value channel). Though productivity shocks are sufficient to generate higher volatility, financial shocks are essential in approximating the time series patterns of unemployment, vacancies, and revolving credit in the data, and reproduce the rise in unemployment during the Great Recession.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-313
Number of pages37
JournalMacroeconomic Dynamics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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