Determinants of SME Loan Default: The Importance of Borrower-Level Heterogeneity
Using unique borrower-level balance sheet information for a cross-section of 6,000 Irish SME loans, this paper tests the determinants of default at the micro level. Typical financial ratios, such as the ratio of the loan to total assets, the current ratio, leverage ratio, liquidity ratio and profitability ratio, are found to be significant predictors of default. Further, the length of time the borrowing firm’s owner has been with the firm mitigates the likelihood of default. Conditional on the above, significant sector-level effects remain. The paper moves beyond average effects of the above-mentioned variables by repeating the analysis across seven sectors of economic activity, and across the quintiles of firm size, exposure and credit quality. The share of defaults is shown to fall as firms get larger, and to rise as loans get larger relative to assets. The results suggest that different warning signals can be identified, particularly for borrowers of different sizes and with small versus large loans. These results contribute to the literature on “fundamentals-based” modelling of corporate default risk, and represent one of very few sets of results on the determinants of default in SME lending in particular.
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- Westgaard, Sjur & van der Wijst, Nico, 2001. "Default probabilities in a corporate bank portfolio: A logistic model approach," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 135(2), pages 338-349, December.
- Jarko Fidrmuc & Christa Hainz, 2009.
"Default Rates in the Loan Market for SMEs:Evidence from Slovakia,"
Ifo Working Paper Series
Ifo Working Paper No. 72, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
- Fidrmuc, Jarko & Hainz, Christa, 2010. "Default rates in the loan market for SMEs: Evidence from Slovakia," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 133-147, June.
- Jarko Fidrmuc & Christa Hainz & Anton Malesich, 2006. "Default Rates in the Loan Market for SMEs: Evidence from Slovakia," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp854, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
- Kelly, Robert, 2011. "The Good, The Bad and The Impaired - A Credit Risk Model of the Irish Mortgage Market," Research Technical Papers 13/RT/11, Central Bank of Ireland.
- Dietsch, Michel & Petey, Joel, 2004. "Should SME exposures be treated as retail or corporate exposures? A comparative analysis of default probabilities and asset correlations in French and German SMEs," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 773-788, April.
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