July 2021 (Revised May 2023)

A New Look at the Effects of the Interest Rate Ceiling in Arkansas

Gregory Elliehausen, Simona M. Hannon, Thomas W. Miller, Jr.


Arkansas has been a popular place to study the effects of rate ceilings because of its exceptionally low interest rate ceiling. This paper examines the effects of the Arkansas rate ceiling on credit use by nonprime consumers in Arkansas, who are especially vulnerable to credit rationing because of the low ceiling. We compare the level and composition of consumer debt of nonprime consumers in Arkansas with that of prime Arkansas consumers and also nonprime consumers in the neighboring states. We find that nonprime consumers in Arkansas are less likely to have consumer debt and, conditional on having debt, have slightly lower levels of consumer debt than prime Arkansas consumers and nonprime consumers in neighboring states. Types of credit used by nonprime consumers in Arkansas tend to differ from those of the comparison groups. Notable is much lower use of consumer finance loans, traditionally an important source of credit for higher risk consumers. This finding suggests rate-based rationing of risky consumers. Also notable is lower use of bank credit despite federal preemption of the rate ceiling for banks. This result is consistent with banks’ traditional avoidance of risky lending.

Keywords: Consumer Credit, Access to Credit, Interest Rate Cap, Financial Regulation.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2021.045r1

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Original Paper: PDF | Accessible materials (.zip)

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Last Update: March 07, 2024