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The institutional memory hypothesis and the procyclicality of bank lending behavior

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  • Allen N. Berger
  • Gregory F. Udell

Abstract

Stylized facts suggest that bank lending behavior is highly procyclical. We offer a new hypothesis that may help explain why this occurs. The institutional memory hypothesis is driven by deterioration in the ability of loan officers over the bank's lending cycle that results in an easing of credit standards. This easing of standards may be compounded by simultaneous deterioration in the capacity of bank management to discipline its loan officers and reduction in the capacities of external stakeholders to discipline bank management. We test the empirical implications of this hypothesis using data from individual U.S. banks over the period 1980-2000. We employ over 200,000 observations on commercial loan growth measured at the bank level, over 2,000,000 observations on interest rate premiums on individual loans, and over 2,000 observations on credit standards and bank-level loan spreads from bank management survey responses. The empirical analysis provides support for the hypothesis.

Suggested Citation

  • Allen N. Berger & Gregory F. Udell, 2003. "The institutional memory hypothesis and the procyclicality of bank lending behavior," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-02, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2003-02
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bank loans ; Business cycles;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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