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On the profitability and cost of relationship lending

  • Mitchell Berlin
  • Loretta J. Mester

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.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 97-3.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:97-3
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  1. 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 901-21, September.
  2. Clive D. Fraser, . "Safety in Numbers," Discussion Papers in Public Sector Economics 96/9, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
  3. Joseph P. Hughes & William W. Lang & Loretta J. Mester & Choon-Geol Moon, 1996. "Safety in numbers? Geographic diversification and bank insolvency risk," Working Papers 96-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  4. Robert B. Avery & Allen N. Berger, 1990. "Loan commitments and bank risk exposure," Working Paper 9015, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  5. Fried, Joel & Howitt, Peter, 1980. "Credit Rationing and Implicit Contract Theory," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(3), pages 471-87, August.
  6. Allen N. Berger & Loretta J. Mester, 1997. "Inside the Black Box: What Explains Differences in the Efficiencies of Financial Institutions?," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 97-04, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  7. Julio Rotemberg & Garth Saloner, 1986. "The Relative Rigidity of Monopoly Pricing," Working papers 414, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  8. Mitchell A. Petersen & Raghuram G. Rajan, 1994. "The Effect of Credit Market Competition on Lending Relationships," NBER Working Papers 4921, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Berlin, Mitchell & Mester, Loretta J, 1999. "Deposits and Relationship Lending," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(3), pages 579-607.
  10. 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.
  11. Dennis W. Carlton, 1986. "The Rigidity of Prices," NBER Working Papers 1813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Allen N. Berger & Gregory F. Udell, 1990. "Some evidence on the empirical significance of credit rationing," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 105, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. 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.
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