How Do Credit Ratings Affect Bank Lending Under Capital Constraints?
34 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 28, 2018
Through the lens of credit risk ratings, we investigate how banks determine loan terms under capital constraints. Using a unique and comprehensive supervisory dataset of individual corporate loans in the US, we show that unexpected adjustments to banks' internal rating systems, which only alter how outsiders assess the riskiness of borrowers, trigger changes in loan terms. The effects are asymmetric: downward adjustments to ratings increase spreads by some 40 bps and decrease committed loan sizes and maturities, but upward adjustments lead to much weaker (yet opposite) effects. Importantly, we find effects to be strong for smaller, riskier, and capital constrained banks as well as for borrowers with poorer credit quality and for non-guaranteed loans. Our findings, robust in several ways, highlight the important role of regulatory capital in loan terms.
Keywords: ratings, bank capital, regulation, loan conditions
JEL Classification: G21, G28
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