How much debtors' punishment?
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This paper investigates how the bankruptcy exemptions applied by the Personal Bankruptcy Law in each American state affect the aggregated leveI of individuaIs and small businesses' loans. Higher leveIs of bankruptcy exemptions imply in a lenient rule, motivating debtors to file for bankruptcy, what makes lenders worsen the terms of credito On the other hand, lower leveIs of exemptions imply in a harsh punishment to debtors, inhibiting their demand for credit fearing a possible bankruptcy by bad luck. Confirming the theoretical daims, empirical tests show the existence of a non-monotonic shape in the relationship between the bankruptcy exemptions and the amount of credit to individuaIs and small businesses, where the optimal leveI of exemptions should be neither too high nor too low. Since the majority of the states in V.S. do not apply the optimallevel, an intervention that brings the exemption leveI doser to the optimal one can be credit and welfare enhancing.