The key frictions are: (i) the lender is unable to observe the borrower's ability to repay a loan; (ii) the borrower cannot commit to any long-term contract; (iii) it is costly for the lender to contact a borrower and to walk away from a contract; and (iv) transactions within each credit relationship are not publicly observable. The lender's optimal contract has two key properties: delayed settlement and debt forgiveness. Asymmetric information gives rise to the property of delayed settlement, which is a contingency in which the lender allows the borrower to defer the repayment of his loan in exchange for more favorable terms of credit within the relationship. This property, together with the borrowers' lack of commitment, gives rise to debt forgiveness. When the borrower's participation constraint binds, the lender needs to "forgive" part of the borrower's debt to keep him in the relationship. Finally, the author studies the impact of the changes in the initial cost of lending on the terms of credit.
A Dynamic Model of Unsecured Credit
WP 11-2 - The author studies the terms of credit in a competitive market in which sellers (lenders) are willing to repeatedly finance the purchases of buyers (borrowers) by engaging in a credit relationship.