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Bank Relationships: Effect on the Availability and Marginal Cost of Credit for Firms in Argentina

  • Jorge M. Streb
  • Javier Bolzico
  • Pablo Druck
  • Alejandro Henke
  • José Rutman
  • Walter Sosa Escudero

This paper provides evidence on what affects the marginal cost and availability of bank credit for firms in Argentina. We study in particular how banks use different pieces of private and public information to screen firms and overcome informational asymmetries in the credit market. While some private information, such as balance sheet data, is transferable, private information generated in relationships is not. To capture the closeness of bank relationships, we resort to the concentration of bank credit and the number of credit lines in a bank. We also consider public information available in the Central de Deudores. The cost of credit is measured using overdrafts, the most expensive line of credit, at the bank that charges the highest rate for overdrafts. We find that the cost of credit is smaller for a firm with a close relationship to the marginal bank. Firms with large assets, a high sales/assets ratio, and a low debt/assets ratio pay a lower interest rate at the margin. A good credit history (no debt arrears and no bounced checks) and collateral also reduce the marginal interest rate. The availability of credit is measured by unused credit lines as a proportion of total liabilities with the main bank. The availability of credit depends positively on a close relationship with the main bank. Large assets, a high return on assets, a high sales/assets ratio, a low debt/assets ratio, a good credit history, and collateral lead to higher credit availability. Our measure of unused credit lines is less ambiguous than traditional measures such as leverage, which may indicate financial distress rather than availability of credit.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 3140.

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Date of creation: May 2002
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:3140
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