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On the profitability and cost of relationship lending

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  • Mitchell Berlin
  • Loretta J. Mester

Abstract

The authors provide some preliminary evidence on the costs and profitability of relationship lending by commercial banks. Drawing on recent research that has identified loan rate smoothing as a significant element in lending relationships between banks and firms, the authors carry out a two-stage procedure. In the first stage, the authors derive bank-specific measures of the extent to which the banks in their sample engage in loan rate smoothing for small business borrowers in response to exogenous shocks to their credit risk. In the second stage, the authors estimate cost and (alternative) profit functions to examine how loan rate smoothing affects a banks' costs and profits. On the whole, the authors' evidence says that loan rate smoothing is associated with lower costs and lower profits. These results do not support the hypothesis that loan rate smoothing arises as part of an optimal long-term contract between a bank and its borrower. However, we do find so me limited support for smoothing as part of an optimal contract for small banks early in our sample period.

Suggested Citation

  • Mitchell Berlin & Loretta J. Mester, 1997. "On the profitability and cost of relationship lending," Working Papers 97-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:97-3
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hannan, Timothy H., 1991. "Bank commercial loan markets and the role of market structure: evidence from surveys of commercial lending," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 133-149, February.
    2. Fried, Joel & Howitt, Peter, 1980. "Credit Rationing and Implicit Contract Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(3), pages 471-487, August.
    3. Berlin, Mitchell & Mester, Loretta J, 1999. "Deposits and Relationship Lending," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(3), pages 579-607.
    4. Avery, Robert B. & Berger, Allen N., 1991. "Loan commitments and bank risk exposure," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 173-192, February.
    5. Bernanke, Ben S & Blinder, Alan S, 1992. "The Federal Funds Rate and the Channels of Monetary Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 901-921, September.
    6. Berger, Allen N. & Mester, Loretta J., 1997. "Inside the black box: What explains differences in the efficiencies of financial institutions?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(7), pages 895-947, July.
    7. Berger, Allen N & Udell, Gregory F, 1992. "Some Evidence on the Empirical Significance of Credit Rationing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 1047-1077, October.
    8. Rotemberg, Julio J & Saloner, Garth, 1987. "The Relative Rigidity of Monopoly Pricing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 917-926, December.
    9. Mitchell A. Petersen & Raghuram G. Rajan, 1995. "The Effect of Credit Market Competition on Lending Relationships," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(2), pages 407-443.
    10. Carlton, Dennis W, 1986. "The Rigidity of Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 637-658, September.
    11. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 1996. "Safety in numbers? Geographic diversification and bank insolvency risk," Proceedings 504, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    12. Berger, Allen N. & Udell, Gregory F., 1990. "Collateral, loan quality and bank risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 21-42, January.
    13. Clive D. Fraser, "undated". "Safety in Numbers," Discussion Papers in Public Sector Economics 96/9, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bank loans;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation

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