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Do Loan Officers' Incentives Lead to Lax Lending Standards?

Author

Listed:
  • Ben-David, Itzhak

    (OH State University)

  • Agarwal, Sumit

    (National University Singapore and Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

Abstract

To understand better the role of loan officers' incentives in the origins of the financial crisis, we study a controlled field experiment conducted by a large bank. In the experiment, the incentive structure of a subset of small business loan officers was altered from fixed salary to volume-based pay. We use a diff-in-diff design to show that while the characteristics of loan applications did not change, incentive-paid loan officers book 19% loans with dollar amounts larger by 19%. We show that treated loan officers use their discretion more in the booking decision. Although loans booked by incentive-paid loan officers have better observable credit quality, they are 28% more likely to default. The increase in default is concentrated in loans that wouldn't have been booked in the absence of commission-based compensation, and in loans with excessive dollar amount. Our results support the idea that the explosion in mortgage volume during the housing bubble and the deterioration of underwriting standards can be partly attributed to the incentives of loan officers.

Suggested Citation

  • Ben-David, Itzhak & Agarwal, Sumit, 2012. "Do Loan Officers' Incentives Lead to Lax Lending Standards?," Working Paper Series 2012-07, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:ohidic:2012-07
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    Cited by:

    1. Shawn Cole & Martin Kanz & Leora Klapper, 2015. "Incentivizing Calculated Risk-Taking: Evidence from an Experiment with Commercial Bank Loan Officers," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 70(2), pages 537-575, April.
    2. Sumit Agarwal & Itzhak Ben-David & Vincent Yao, 2015. "Collateral Valuation and Borrower Financial Constraints: Evidence from the Residential Real Estate Market," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(9), pages 2220-2240, September.
    3. Ing-Haw Cheng & Sahil Raina & Wei Xiong, 2014. "Wall Street and the Housing Bubble," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2797-2829, September.
    4. Agarwal, Sumit & Amromin, Gene & Ben-David, Itzhak & Chomsisengphet, Souphala & Evanoff, Douglas D., 2014. "Predatory lending and the subprime crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(1), pages 29-52.
    5. Paola Morales Acevedo & Steven Ongena, 2016. "Fear, Anger and Credit. On Bank Robberies and Loan Conditions," BAFFI CAREFIN Working Papers 1513, BAFFI CAREFIN, Centre for Applied Research on International Markets Banking Finance and Regulation, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy.
    6. Efing, Matthias & Hau, Harald & Kampkötter, Patrick & Steinbrecher, Johannes, 2015. "Incentive pay and bank risk-taking: Evidence from Austrian, German, and Swiss banks," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(S1), pages 123-140.
    7. repec:eee:jbfina:v:87:y:2018:i:c:p:26-39 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Gropp, Reint & Guettler, Andre, 2018. "Hidden gems and borrowers with dirty little secrets: Investment in soft information, borrower self-selection and competition," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 26-39.
    9. Mosk, T.C., 2014. "Essays on banking," Other publications TiSEM d424ec24-1bfd-4be0-b19a-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    10. Tobias Berg & Manju Puri & Jorg Rocholl, 2013. "Loan officer Incentives and the Limits of Hard Information," NBER Working Papers 19051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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