The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The Outreach & Education function engages, empowers and educates the public in the Second District. Our outreach mission furthers the Bank’s commitment to the region by listening to the communities we serve and developing programs, analysis and sponsored conferences and clinics to help meet their needs. Our education mission aims to advance public knowledge about the Federal Reserve System and its role in the economy.
We find that competition from payday lenders leads depository institutions to raise overdraft fees and reduce the availability of “free” checking accounts. We attribute this rise in prices partly to adverse selection created by banks’ practice of charging a flat fee regardless of the overdraft amount—pricing that favors depositors prone to large overdrafts. Payday credit is priced per dollar borrowed, so when that option is available, depositors prone to small overdrafts switch. That selection works against banks; large overdrafts cost more to supply and, if depositors default, banks lose more, so prices rise. Consistent with this adverse selection hypothesis, we document that the average dollar amount per returned check at banks and other depository institutions increases when depositors have access to payday credit. Our findings illuminate competition and pricing frictions in the large, yet largely unstudied, small-dollar loan market.