The Distortionary Effects of Central Bank Direct Lending on Firm Quality Dynamics
Charles A. Dice Working Paper No. 2020-28
77 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2020 Last revised: 9 Jan 2021
Date Written: November 24, 2020
Bypassing the banking systems, central banks around the world lent to nonfinancial firms on an unprecedented scale during the Covid-19 crisis. Effective and necessary as it is, direct lending is subject to credit mispricing given central banks' lack of information on individual borrowers. Our dynamic model characterizes a downward bias in firm quality distribution that is self-perpetuating: Direct lending in the current crisis necessitates a greater scale of interventions in future crises, which in turn cause more severe distortion of firm quality distribution. Such effects are amplified by firms' forward-looking investment decisions in normal times. Low-quality firms overinvest to take advantage of underpriced central bank credit in future crises while, on a relative basis, high-quality firms underinvest. The distortionary effects can be mitigated by central banks' use of market information, collaboration and regulation of informed banks, and coordination of direct lending and conventional monetary policy.
Keywords: credit policy; firm quality; central banking
JEL Classification: E5, G0
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation