Determinants of the Credit Cycle: A Flow Analysis of the Extensive Margin
36 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020
Date Written: March 18, 2020
We use monthly data on individual loans from the Italian Credit Register over the period from 1997 to 2019 and show that bank credit expansions in the non-financial private sector are mostly explained by variations in the extensive margin calculated either in credit flows or headcount of new borrowers. We then build on a flow approach to decompose changes in the net creation of borrowers into gross flows across three states: (i) borrowers, (ii) applicants and (iii) others (neither debtors nor applicants). The paper investigates the macroeconomic dimension of these gross flows and documents three key cyclical facts. First, entries in the credit market by new obligors (`inflows') account for the bulk of volatility in the net creation of borrowers. Second, the volatility of borrower inflows is two times as large as the volatility of obligors exiting the credit market (`outflows'). Third, borrower inflows are highly pro-cyclical, lead the economic cycle, and their fluctuations are mainly driven by the probability of getting a loan from new banks.
We read these results in light of the macrofinance literature on search frictions and on competition with lender-lender informational asymmetries. Overall, our findings support theoretical predictions of these models, but search frictions seem to play a major role in shaping movements along the extensive margin.
Keywords: borrower, applicant, gross flows, business cycle, credit cycle
JEL Classification: E51, E32, E44
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation