Trade Credit Contracts

36 Pages Posted: 25 May 2010

See all articles by Leora F. Klapper

Leora F. Klapper

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Luc Laeven

European Central Bank (ECB); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Raghuram G. Rajan

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; International Monetary Fund (IMF); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 25, 2010


This paper provides new evidence on the unique role of trade credit and contracting terms as a way for both sellers and buyers to mange business risk. We use a novel and unique dataset on almost 30,000 supplier contracts for 56 large buyers and over 24,000 suppliers in Europe and North America. Our sample of buyers and suppliers include firms of varying size, investment grade, and sectors. We find evidence in support of four important, and not mutually exclusive, reasons for trade credit: 1) As a method of financing; 2) As a means of price discrimination; 3) As a bond assuring buyers of product quality; and 4) As a screening mechanism to gauge buyer default risk. In particular, we find that the largest and most creditworthy buyers receive contracts with the longest maturities, as measured by net days, from smaller, investment grade suppliers. In comparison, early payment discounts seem to be used as a risk management tool to limit the potential nonpayment risk of trade credit. In particular, early payment discounts are generally offered to smaller, non-investment grade buyers. Our results suggest that contract terms are jointly determined by supplier and buyer characteristics.

Keywords: Trade Credit, Capital Structure, Contract Theory, Risk Management

JEL Classification: G32

Suggested Citation

Klapper, Leora F. and Laeven, Luc A. and Rajan, Raghuram G., Trade Credit Contracts (May 25, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Leora F. Klapper

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-8738 (Phone)


World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

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Luc A. Laeven (Contact Author)

European Central Bank (ECB) ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Raghuram G. Rajan

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-4437 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)

International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )

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United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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773-702-9299 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)

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