Without bankruptcy protection, creditors can collect on defaulted debt to the extent permitted by wage garnishment laws. The elimination lowers the default premium on unsecured debt and permits low-net-worth individuals suffering bad earnings shocks to smooth consumption by borrowing. There is a large increase in consumer debt financed essentially by super-wealthy individuals, a modest drop in capital per worker, and a higher frequency of consumer default. Average welfare rises by 1 percent of consumption in perpetuity, with about 90 percent of households favoring the change.
Dealing with Consumer Default: Bankruptcy vs. Garnishment
WP 11-35 - What are the positive and normative implications of eliminating bankruptcy protection for indebted individuals?