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The Credit Line Channel


  • Daniel L. Greenwald
  • John Krainer
  • Pascal Paul


Aggregate bank lending to firms expands following adverse macroeconomic shocks, such as the outbreak of COVID-19 or a monetary policy tightening, at odds with canonical models. Using loan-level supervisory data, we show that these dynamics are driven by draws on credit lines by large firms. Banks that experience larger drawdowns restrict term lending more — an externality onto smaller firms. Using a structural model, we show that credit lines are necessary to reproduce the flow of credit toward less constrained firms after adverse shocks. While credit lines increase total credit growth, their redistributive effects exacerbate the fall in investment.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel L. Greenwald & John Krainer & Pascal Paul, 2020. "The Credit Line Channel," Working Paper Series 2020-26, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:88497
    DOI: 10.24148/wp2020-26

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    Cited by:

    1. Lopez, Jose A. & Spiegel, Mark M., 2023. "Small business lending under the PPP and PPPLF programs," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 53(C).
    2. Alejandro Fernández-Cerezo & Beatriz Gonzalez & Mario Izquierdo Peinado & Enrique Moral-Benito, 2023. "Firm-level heterogeneity in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(42), pages 4946-4974, September.
    3. Dautović, Ernest & Gambacorta, Leonardo & Reghezza, Alessio, 2023. "Supervisory policy stimulus: evidence from the euro area dividend recommendation," Working Paper Series 2796, European Central Bank.
    4. Bellucci, Andrea & Borisov, Alexander & Gucciardi, Gianluca & Zazzaro, Alberto, 2023. "The reallocation effects of COVID-19: Evidence from venture capital investments around the world," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).
    5. Berger, Allen N. & Demirgüç-Kunt, Asli, 2021. "Banking research in the time of COVID-19," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 57(C).
    6. Viral V. Acharya & Robert F. Engle III & Maximilian Jager & Sascha Steffen, 2021. "Why Did Bank Stocks Crash During COVID-19?," NBER Working Papers 28559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Rey, Hélène & Galaasen, Sigurd & Jamilov, Rustam & Juelsrud, Ragnar, 2020. "Granular Credit Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 15385, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Altavilla, Carlo & Barbiero, Francesca & Boucinha, Miguel & Burlon, Lorenzo, 2023. "The Great Lockdown: Pandemic response policies and bank lending conditions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 156(C).
    9. Ferragina, Anna Maria & Iandolo, Stefano, 2022. "Reacting to the economic fallout of the COVID-19: Evidence on debt exposure and asset management of Italian firms," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 530-547.
    10. Bo Becker & Efraim Benmelech, 2021. "The Resilience of the U.S. Corporate Bond Market During Financial Crises," NBER Working Papers 28868, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Veronika Penciakova & Nick Sander, 2020. "COVID-19 and SME Failures," IMF Working Papers 2020/207, International Monetary Fund.
    12. Beck, Thorsten & Keil, Jan, 2022. "Have banks caught corona? Effects of COVID on lending in the U.S," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    13. Deimantė Teresienė & Greta Keliuotytė-Staniulėnienė & Rasa Kanapickienė, 2021. "Sustainable Economic Growth Support through Credit Transmission Channel and Financial Stability: In the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(5), pages 1-34, March.
    14. Kyle Dempsey & Felicia Ionescu, 2021. "Lending Standards and Borrowing Premia in Unsecured Credit Markets," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2021-039, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    15. Lei Li & Philip Strahan, 2020. "Who Supplies PPP Loans (And Does it Matter)? Banks, Relationships and the COVID Crisis," NBER Working Papers 28286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Chodorow-Reich, Gabriel & Darmouni, Olivier & Luck, Stephan & Plosser, Matthew, 2022. "Bank liquidity provision across the firm size distribution," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 908-932.
    17. Larry D. Wall, 2020. "Financial Stability and the Coronavirus Pandemic," Policy Hub 2020-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    18. Maria Semenova & Polina Popova, 2023. "Time to Extend Credit? Bank Credit Lines During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Russia," Russian Journal of Money and Finance, Bank of Russia, vol. 82(2), pages 106-119, June.
    19. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Ṣebnem Kalemli-Özcan & Veronika Penciakova & Nick Sander, 2020. "Estimating SME Failures in Real Time: An Application to the COVID-19 Crisis," NBER Working Papers 27877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Credit Lines; Monetary Policy; covid-19; Banks; Firms;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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