We develop a simple model of relationship lending where lenders have incentives for evergreening loans by offering better terms to less productive and more indebted firms. We detect such lending behavior using loan-level supervisory data for the United States. Low-capitalized banks systematically distort firms’ risk assessments to window-dress their balance sheets. To avoid further reductions in their capital ratios, such banks extend relatively more credit to underreported borrowers. We incorporate the theoretical mechanism into a dynamic heterogeneous-firm model to show that evergreening affects aggregate outcomes, resulting in lower interest rates, higher levels of debt, and lower productivity.
Aggregate U.S. bank lending to firms expands following several adverse macroeconomic shocks, such as the outbreak of COVID-19 or a monetary policy tightening. Using loan-level supervisory data, we show that these dynamics are driven by draws on credit lines by large firms. Banks that experience larger drawdowns during the COVID-19 crisis restrict term lending more, crowding out credit to smaller firms. A structural model indicates that credit lines are central to reproducing this flow of credit toward less constrained firms. While credit lines increase total credit growth in bad times, their redistributive effects can exacerbate the fall in investment.
Published Articles (Refereed Journals and Volumes)
Banks engage in maturity transformation and the term premium compensates them for bearing the associated interest rate risk. Consistent with this view, I show that banks’ net interest margins and term premia have comoved in the United States over the last decades. On monetary policy announcement days, bank equity falls more sharply than nonbank equity following an increase in expected future short-term rates, but also responds more positively if term premia increase. These effects are reflected in bank cash-flows and amplified for banks with a larger maturity mismatch. The results reveal that banks are not immune to interest rate risk.
To understand the determinants of financial crises, previous research focused on developments closely related to financial markets. In contrast, this paper considers changes originating in the real economy as drivers of financial instability. To this end, I assemble a novel data set of long-run measures of income inequality, productivity, and other macrofinancial indicators for advanced economies. I find that rising top income inequality and low productivity growth are robust predictors of crises, and their slow-moving trend components largely explain these relations. Moreover, recessions that are preceded by such developments are deeper than recessions without such ex-ante trends.
We investigate the transmission of monetary policy to household consumption using administrative data on the universe of households in Norway. On the basis of identified monetary policy shocks, we estimate the dynamic responses of consumption, income, and saving along the liquid asset distribution of households. For low-liquidity but also for high-liquidity households, changes in disposable income are associated with a sizable consumption reaction. The impact consumption response is closely linked to interest rate exposure, which is negative at the bottom but positive at the top of the distribution. Indirect effects of monetary policy gradually build up and eventually outweigh the direct effects.
This paper studies how monetary policy jointly affects asset prices and the real economy in the United States. I develop an estimator that uses high-frequency surprises as a proxy for the structural monetary policy shocks. This is achieved by integrating the surprises into a vector autoregressive model as an exogenous variable. I use current short-term rate surprises because these are least affected by an information effect. When allowing for time-varying model parameters, I find that, compared to the response of output, the reaction of stock and house prices to monetary policy shocks was particularly low before the 2007-09 financial crisis.
Financial crises occur out of prolonged and credit-fueled boom periods and, at times, they are initiated by relatively small shocks that can have large effects. Consistent with these empirical observations, this paper extends a standard macroeconomic model to include financial intermediation, long-term loans, and occasional financial crises. Within this framework, intermediaries raise their lending and leverage in good times, thereby building up financial fragility. Crises typically occur at the end of a prolonged boom, initiated by a moderate adverse shock that triggers a liquidation of existing investment, a contraction in lending, and ultimately a deep and persistent recession.
Aggregate US bank lending to firms tends to expand following adverse macroeconomic shocks, such as the outbreak of COVID-19 or a monetary policy tightening. Based on detailed loan-level supervisory data, this column shows that these responses are almost entirely explained by large firms drawing on their bank credit lines. However, funding stability for large firms may imply that smaller firms face tighter borrowing conditions. The authors show that such a crowding out effect was at play during the COVID-19 crisis and explore the implications of such spillovers within a structural model.
Empirical evaluations of monetary policy have traditionally focused on the responses of macroeconomic aggregates. Instead, this column uses detailed administrative data from Norway to uncover substantial heterogeneity in the effects of monetary policy at the household level. The authors find that not only low-liquidity households but also high-liquidity ones show strong responses. Interest rate changes faced by borrowers and savers feed into consumption, and indirect effects of monetary policy are sizable, but occur with a delay. While the results confirm several predictions of recent heterogeneous-agent New Keynesian models, they also provide new challenges.