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Interbank Market Integration, Loan Rates, and Firm Leverage

41 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2009 Last revised: 8 Oct 2010

Steven Ongena

University of Zurich - Department of Banking and Finance; Swiss Finance Institute

Alexander A. Popov

European Central Bank (ECB)

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Date Written: November 1, 2009


We study the effect of interbank market integration on small firm finance in the build-up to the current financial crisis. We use a comprehensive data set that contains contract terms on individual loans to 6,000 firms across 14 European countries between 1998:01 and 2005:12. We account for the selection that arises in the loan request and approval process. Our findings imply that integration of interbank markets resulted in less stringent borrowing constraints and in substantially lower loan rates. The decrease was strongest in markets with competitive banking sectors. We also find that in the most rapidly integrating markets, firms became substantially overleveraged during the build-up to the crisis. Our evidence thus points to one specific channel through which the credit boom of the last decade contributed to both the growth and the vulnerability of the region's non-financial firms.

Keywords: interbank markets, financial integration, selection, loan rates, bank competition, firm leverage

JEL Classification: E51, G15, G21, G34

Suggested Citation

Ongena, Steven and Popov, Alexander A., Interbank Market Integration, Loan Rates, and Firm Leverage (November 1, 2009). 22nd Australasian Finance and Banking Conference 2009. Available at SSRN: or

Steven R. G. Ongena

University of Zurich - Department of Banking and Finance ( email )

Schönberggasse 1
Zürich, 8001

Swiss Finance Institute ( email )

Quartier UNIL-Dorigny, Bâtiment Extranef, # 211
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
CH-1015 Lausanne, CH-6900

Alexander A. Popov (Contact Author)

European Central Bank (ECB) ( email )

Sonnemannstrasse 22
Frankfurt am Main, 60314

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