Many lenders hire loan officers to screen soft information that may otherwise be ignored by credit scoring. However, in addition to their compensation costs, loan officers may have characteristics, such as being overly cautious, that could distort their decisions. This column documents the performance of loan officers using data from a Chinese lender. Despite the distortions, the loan officers contribute three times their pay in annual profits above what the lender could have earned by itself, even with the benefit of hindsight.
James Wang, Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Neil Kay, Gavin Murphy, Conor O'Toole, Iulia Siedschlag, Brian O'Connell, Sunday, June 29, 2014
Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) often report difficulties in obtaining external finance. Based on new research, this column argues that these difficulties are not due to greater financial risks associated with SMEs. Instead, they are the result of imperfections in the market for external finance that negatively affect smaller and younger enterprises. The same research has shown that these types of firms are also the most reliant on external finance to support their investment and growth.
Peter Koudijs, Hans-Joachim Voth, Saturday, April 12, 2014
Human behaviour in times of financial crises is difficult to understand, but critical to policymaking. This column discusses new evidence showing that personal experience in financial markets can dramatically change risk tolerance. A cleanly identified historical episode demonstrates that even without losses, negative shocks not only modify risk appetite, but can also create ‘leverage cycles’. These, in turn, have the potential to make markets extremely fragile. Remarkably, those who witnessed this episode but were not directly threatened by it, did not change their own behaviour. Thus, personal experience can be a powerful determinant of investors’ actions and can eventually affect aggregate instability.
John Hooley, Glenn Hoggarth, Yevgeniya Korniyenko, Friday, February 14, 2014
The recent crisis revealed that lending by foreign banks can be more cyclical than that by domestic banks. This column presents research showing that bank ownership structure mattered, at least in the case of the UK. Foreign bank branches cut their lending more sharply than did foreign subsidiaries, thus, amplifying the domestic credit cycle. This finding suggests policymakers should pay close attention to risks that stem from foreign bank branches when they are ‘alive’, not only when they are ‘dead’ and pose an even greater financial instability.
Indraneel Chakraborty, Itay Goldstein, Andrew MacKinlay, Monday, November 25, 2013
Higher asset prices increase the value of firms’ collateral, strengthen banks’ balance sheets, and increase households’ wealth. These considerations perhaps motivated the Federal Reserve’s intervention to support the housing market. However, higher housing prices may also lead banks to reallocate their portfolios from commercial and industrial loans to real-estate loans. This column presents the first evidence on this crowding-out effect. When housing prices increase, banks on average reduce commercial lending and increase interest rates, leading related firms to cut back on investment.
Edda Zoli, Saturday, June 15, 2013
What has driven Italian sovereign spreads movements? This column presents new research looking into increased volatility in sovereign debt since the summer of 2011. Shocks in investor risk appetite, news related to the Eurozone debt crisis, and consistently bad news in Italy, have been important drivers of Italian sovereign spreads. These findings mean that we need to reduce country-specific vulnerabilities as well as sorting out the Eurozone.
Thorsten Beck, Berrak Buyukkarabacak, Felix Rioja, Neven Valev, Thursday, July 9, 2009
How does financial development affect macroeconomic outcomes? Previous studies have relied on aggregate measures. This column introduces a data set that distinguishes between lending to enterprises and households and investigates the consequences for economic growth, income inequality, and consumption smoothing.