Bad Times, Good Credit
49 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2015 Last revised: 29 May 2018
Date Written: April 3, 2018
Banks’ limited knowledge about borrowers’ creditworthiness constitutes an important friction in credit markets. Is this friction deeper in recessions, thereby contributing to cyclical swings in credit, or is the depth of the friction reduced, as bad times reveal information about firm quality? We test these alternative hypotheses using internal ratings data from a large Swedish cross-border bank and credit scores from a credit bureau. The ability to classify corporate borrowers by credit quality is greater during bad times and worse during good times Soft and hard information measures both display countercyclical patterns. Our results suggest that information frictions in corporate credit markets are intrinsically counter-cyclical and not due to cyclical variation in monitoring effort.
Keywords: Credit markets, corporate loans, information frictions, business cycles, internal ratings
JEL Classification: G21, G30, E51
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