Are the Borrowing Costs of Large Financial Firms Unusual?
60 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2015
Date Written: May 13, 2015
Expectations of government support for large financial firms are often based on their lower borrowing costs relative to smaller financial firms. However, large financial firms are not unique in this regard: larger firms enjoy lower borrowing costs in several industries. We show that size-related borrowing cost advantages are not unusually large in the financial industry, and spreads are actually more sensitive to borrower size in several nonfinancial industries. These size-related differences are not explained by differences in risk and are only partially explained by higher liquidity and recovery rates for larger borrowers. Our results suggest that estimates of implicit government guarantees for financial firms may overemphasize the relationship between size-related borrowing cost differentials and expected bailouts. Our analysis also suggests that in the period leading to the 2008-9 financial crisis, perceptions of reduced risk may have lowered borrowing costs for the financial industry as a whole.
Keywords: Financial industry, too-big-to-fail, implicit government guarantee, size effect, borrowing costs, credit default swaps
JEL Classification: G21, G22, G24, G28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation