Customer Risk and the Choice between Cash and Bank Credit Lines

58 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2018 Last revised: 3 Apr 2021

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 9, 2021


I use a matched buyer-supplier sample of U.S. industrial firms to investigate the impact of customer risk on suppliers' choice between cash and credit lines. I show that customer risk decreases the reliance on bank-managed liquidity insurance relative to cash. I also find evidence indicating that firms actively shy away from credit lines in response to customer risk in order to maximize the future availability of their liquidity reserves. Consistently, my findings suggest that high-customer-risk firms are particularly more likely to be subject to (stricter) borrowing base provisions, which tie the value of a credit line to that of eligible collateral (notably accounts receivable). I also find that steeper credit line spreads alone cannot explain firms' response to customer risk. These results highlight how customer-supplier relationships affect the precautionary demand for liquidity, and significantly shape corporate financial decisions.

Keywords: Customer Risk, Lines of Credit, Cash Management, Precautionary Motive

JEL Classification: G30, G32

Suggested Citation

David, Thomas, Customer Risk and the Choice between Cash and Bank Credit Lines (February 9, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Thomas David (Contact Author)

ESCP Business School ( email )

79 avenue de la République

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