Boundedly Rational Banks’ Contribution to the Credit Cycle

25 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2009 Last revised: 20 Jul 2012

Date Written: June 15, 2012


We investigate how banks’ boundedly rational learning influences their views about default risks over the business cycle. Our analysis details the direction and the magnitude of these effects assuming that banks update probability in a Bayesian way. With a limited experience span lenders are liable to overestimate (underestimate) losses from defaulting loans early (late) in the boom. Depending on their experience span, banks turn over-optimistic and underprice default risk 3 to 5 years into the boom. During recessions an overpricing of risk begins just quarters into the recession. Our simulations are calibrated with U.S. data and provide evidence for the view that banks contribute to excessive lending during the upswing and to credit crunches in recessions.

Keywords: Boundedly rational learning, loan-loss expectations, credit cycle

JEL Classification: E51, D84, G21, E32

Suggested Citation

Rötheli, Tobias F., Boundedly Rational Banks’ Contribution to the Credit Cycle (June 15, 2012). Journal of Socio-Economics, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Tobias F. Rötheli (Contact Author)

University of Erfurt ( email )

Postfach 900 221
Nordhauserstrasse 63
D-99105 Erfurt
+49 361 737 4531 (Phone)
+49 361 737 4539 (Fax)

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