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Usury Ceilings, Relationships and Bank Lending Behavior: Evidence from Nineteenth Century

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  • Howard Bodenhorn

Abstract

Few pieces of economic regulation are ubiquitous as usury limits. Similarly, few economic principles are as widely accepted as the belief that interference with freely contracted prices leads to market distortions, and many studies of financial markets find that usury limits negatively affect credit availability. This study shows that when no regulatory authority monitors and stands ready to punish violators of the usury limit when intermediaries and borrowers form long-term relationships, banks and borrowers regularly contract for interest rates in excess of the usury ceiling. Time series analysis reveals limited effects on credit availability when market rates exceed the usury ceiling. Cross-sectional analysis of individual loan contracts also shows that the positive effect of a long-term relationship offsets the negative effect of the usury limit on credit availability.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11734.

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Date of creation: Nov 2005
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Publication status: published as Bodenhorn, Howard, 2007. "Usury ceilings and bank lending behavior: Evidence from nineteenth century New York," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 179-202, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11734

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  1. Bodenhorn, Howard, 2003. " Short-Term Loans and Long-Term Relationships: Relationship Lending in Early America," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(4), pages 485-505, August.
  2. Joachim Voth & Peter Temin, 2005. "Interest rate restrictions in a natural experiment: loan allocation and the change in the usury laws in 1714," Economics Working Papers 858, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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  6. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1987. "The Causes and Consequences of the Dependence of Quality on Price," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 1-48, March.
  7. Howard Bodenhorn, 2006. "Bank Chartering and Political Corruption in Antebellum New York. Free Banking as Reform," NBER Chapters, in: Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History, pages 231-258 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. von Thadden, Ernst-Ludwig, 1995. "Long-Term Contracts, Short-Term Investment and Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 557-75, October.
  10. Bodenhorn, Howard, 1992. "Capital Mobility and Financial Integration in Antebellum America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(03), pages 585-610, September.
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  16. Boot, Arnoud W. A., 2000. "Relationship Banking: What Do We Know?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 7-25, January.
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  20. Marco Espinosa & William C. Hunter, 1994. "Financial repression and economic development," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Sep, pages 1-11.
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Cited by:
  1. Efraim Benmelech & Tobias J. Moskowitz, 2007. "The Political Economy of Financial Regulation: Evidence from U.S. State Usury Laws in the 19th Century," NBER Working Papers 12851, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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