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Are Loan Sales Really Off-Balance Sheet

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  • Gary Gorton
  • George Pennacchi

Abstract

A commercial loan sale or secondary loan participation is a contract under which a bank sells the cash stream from a loan to a third party, usually without recourse. In accordance with accepted accounting procedures, this no--recourse contract allows removal of the underlying loan from the balance sheet of the bank, so that the funding of the loan is not subject to capital or reserve requirements. Since commercial banks are thought to specialize in the origination of non-marketable claims on borrowing firms, the apparent ability of banks to sell these assets seems paradoxical. The paradox could be explained if loan sales contracts contained implicit guarantees in the form of options by loan buyers to sell the loans back to the bank if the underlying borrower performs worse than anticipated. If such guarantees exist, then loans which are sold represent contingent liabilities, and a rationale for increasing capital requirements may exist. As an indirect test of the existence of this guarantee, we investigate whether loan sales and commercial paper prices contain a risk premium for the default of the selling bank. The empirical evidence supports the hypothesis of implicit guarantees.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Gorton & George Pennacchi, "undated". "Are Loan Sales Really Off-Balance Sheet," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 18-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:pennfi:18-88
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    Cited by:

    1. Gary B. Gorton & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2007. "Special Purpose Vehicles and Securitization," NBER Chapters,in: The Risks of Financial Institutions, pages 549-602 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gary Gorton, 2009. "The Subprime Panic," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 15(1), pages 10-46.
    3. Bohn, Henning, 1995. "Towards a theory of incomplete financial markets A review essay," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 433-449, November.
    4. Gorton, Gary B. & Pennacchi, George G., 1995. "Banks and loan sales Marketing nonmarketable assets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 389-411, June.
    5. Daniel M. Covitz & J. Nellie Liang & Gustavo A. Suarez, 2009. "The evolution of a financial crisis: panic in the asset-backed commercial paper market," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-36, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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