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Condizioni del credito commerciale e differenziazione della clientela

Listed author(s):
  • Luigi Cannari


    (Bank of Italy, Economic Research Department)

  • Salvatore Chiri


    (Bank of Italy, Economic Research Department)

  • Massimo Omiccioli


    (Bank of Italy, Economic Research Department)

In this paper we examine trade credit terms in Italy on the basis of two original surveys carried out by the Bank of Italy. The surveys show that 80-90 per cents of sales are paid on a deferred payment basis of 90 days on average and a delay of 11 days. 83 per cent of trade credit is extended on net terms (with no discount offered for prompt payment). When two-part terms are offered, the cost of trade credit is normally very high and well above market interest rates. These results point to the importance of marketing determinants for the extension of trade credit (product quality guarantee, customer relationships) more than financial motives. Most of suppliers (80 per cent) differentiate customers by means of price and payment terms in favor of older and bigger firms and longstanding customers; they apply stricter terms to late payers, while being indulgent with those in temporary distress. Regressions on a sample of bilateral transactions suggest that cash payments are required when information asymmetry is relatively low and the risk of customer default relatively high. Two-part terms, on the other hand, are offered to not well-known customers and are aimed at extracting information on their creditworthiness. More generally, the analysis shows that two-part and net terms respond to very different aims. Contrary to the presumption of most of the literature, generalizing the characteristics of two-part terms contract as pertaining to the whole of credit transactions is unwarranted. Price and payment terms are a flexible and many-faceted device extensively used by firms for building customer relationships, acquiring information on buyers creditworthiness, and exploiting market power.

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Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) with number 495.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_495_04
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