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Family firms and the agency cost of debt: The role of soft information during a crisis

  • Leandro D’Aurizio
  • Tommaso Oliviero
  • Livio Romano

In this paper we study how access to bank lending during the recent financial crisis differed between family and non-family firms. Our theoretical prediction is that the presence of a family block-holder in the company attenuated the agency conflict in the borrower-lender relation, because of the higher non-monetary cost of default entailed in this type of corporate ownership structure. Because this information is to a large extent soft, we further investigate the interaction between the family firm status and the screening technology adopted by banks. Using highly detailed data referred to Italy, we exploit the change in the credit allocation following Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. We find that family firms experienced a contraction in granted credit lower than non-family firms. Results are robust to ex-ante differences between the two types of firms and to bank-specific shocks. In line with our prior, banks that increased the role of soft information in their lending practices reallocated credit towards family firms.

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File URL: http://cadmus.eui.eu/bitstream/handle/1814/24134/ECO_2012_22.pdf
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Paper provided by European University Institute in its series Economics Working Papers with number ECO2012/22.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:eui:euiwps:eco2012/22
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  1. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1993. "Monetary policy, business cycles and the behavior of small manufacturing firms," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-4, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Allen N. Berger & Nathan H. Miller & Mitchell A. Petersen & Raghuram G. Rajan & Jeremy C. Stein, 2002. "Does Function Follow Organizational Form? Evidence From the Lending Practices of Large and Small Banks," NBER Working Papers 8752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ongena, Steven & Smith, David C., 2000. "What Determines the Number of Bank Relationships? Cross-Country Evidence," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 26-56, January.
  4. Joe Peek & Eric S. Rosengren, 2003. "Unnatural Selection: Perverse Incentives and the Misallocation of Credit in Japan," NBER Working Papers 9643, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Financial Dependence and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 559-86, June.
  6. Andrei Shleifer & Fausto Panunzi & Mike Burkart, 2002. "Family Firms," FMG Discussion Papers dp406, Financial Markets Group.
    • Mike Burkart & Fausto Panunzi & Andrei Shleifer, 2003. "Family Firms," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 58(5), pages 2167-2202, October.
  7. Andrew Ellul & Marco Pagano & Fausto Panunzi, 2010. "Inheritance Law and Investment in Family Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2414-50, December.
  8. Luigi Guiso & Raoul Minetti, 2007. "The Structure of Multiple Credit Relationships: Evidence from US Firms," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/46, European University Institute.
  9. Hadiye Aslan & Praveen Kumar, 2012. "Strategic Ownership Structure and the Cost of Debt," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 25(7), pages 2257-2299.
  10. Anderson, Ronald C. & Mansi, Sattar A. & Reeb, David M., 2003. "Founding family ownership and the agency cost of debt," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 263-285, May.
  11. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  12. repec:fip:fedreq:y:2011:i:3q:p:209-254:n:vol.97no.3 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Giorgio Albareto & Michele Benvenuti & Sauro Mocetti & Marcello Pagnini & Paola Rossi, 2008. "Lending organizational structure and the use of credit scoring: evidence from a survey on Italian banks," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 12, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  14. Albareto, Giorgio & Benvenuti, Michele & Mocetti, Sauro & Pagnini, Marcello & Rossi, Paola, 2011. "The Organization of Lending and the Use of Credit Scoring Techniques in Italian Banks," Journal of Financial Transformation, Capco Institute, vol. 32, pages 143-168.
  15. Piketty, Thomas & Banerjee, Abhijit & Aghion, Philippe, 1999. "Dualism and Macroeconomic Volatility," Scholarly Articles 4554124, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Karl V. Lins & Paolo Volpin & Hannes F. Wagner, 2013. "Does Family Control Matter? International Evidence from the 2008--2009 Financial Crisis," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 26(10), pages 2583-2619.
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