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Is George Bailey Dead?

  • Jessica A. Holmes
  • Jonathan T. Isham
  • Paul M. Sommers

As consolidation, deregulation, and technological advances transform the financial services industry, it is generally believed that community banks provide relationship-based banking services for small businesses, family farmers, and depositors of low to moderate wealth. Using data from actual loan applications to a rural community bank (not too dissimilar to It's A Wonderful Life's 'Bailey Building and Loan Company’ in Bedford Falls), the role of relationship lending in the market for home mortgages is examined for a financial institution with a long-perceived tradition of character lending. No evidence is found that prior account holders are given any advantage in the approval process for a home loan. Nearly all of the loan decisions are based on objective criteria such as personal wealth, debt obligations, and credit score. This has obvious implications for historically underserved consumers who are often rationed out of a credit market that allocates loan funds based solely on credit scoring techniques.

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Article provided by Taylor and Francis Journals in its journal Applied Financial Economics Letters.

Volume (Year): 3 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 19-24

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Handle: RePEc:taf:apfelt:v:3:y:2007:i:1:p:19-24
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  1. Jessica Holmes & Jonathan Isham & Jessica Wasilewski, 2004. "Overcoming Information Asymmetries in Low-Income Lending: Lessons from the 'Working Wheels' Program," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0244r, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  2. Jessica Holmes & Jonathan Isham & Ryan Petersen & Paul Sommers, 2005. "Does Relationship Lending Still Matter in the Consumer Banking Sector? Evidence from Two Financial Service Organizations in Vermont," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0511, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  3. Orazio Attanasio & Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Ekaterini Kyriazidou, 2000. "Credit Constraints in the Market for Consumer Durables: Evidence from Micro Data on Car Loans," NBER Working Papers 7694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Loretta J. Mester, 1999. "Banking industry's consolidation: what's a small business to do?," Business Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, issue Jan, pages 3-16.
  5. Robert DeYoung & William C. Hunter & Gregory F. Udell, 2003. "The past, present, and probable future for community banks," Working Paper Series WP-03-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. Jaffee, Dwight M & Russell, Thomas, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-66, November.
  7. Jaffee, Dwight & Stiglitz, Joseph, 1990. "Credit rationing," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 16, pages 837-888 Elsevier.
  8. Chakravarty, Sugato & Scott, James S, 1999. "Relationships and Rationing in Consumer Loans," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72(4), pages 523-44, October.
  9. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  10. Charles GRANT, 2003. "Estimating Credit Constraints among US Households," Economics Working Papers ECO2003/14, European University Institute.
  11. William Keeton, 2003. "The role of community banks in the U.S. economy," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 15-43.
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