Bank lending to the production sector: credit crunch or extra-credit?
This paper provides empirical evidence to support the theory that, in Italy, over the course of the past two years, even though a considerable slowdown in bank lending has been recorded, there has not been a credit crunch. After a first section dedicated to a descriptive analysis of the data, the paper presents an econometric estimation of the production sector’s demand for bank loans. An Error Correction Model (ECM) is used – estimated for the pre-crisis period (1998.Q2 – 2007.Q2) and applied both with the one and two step procedure – which considers lending as a function of the added value of the private sector, of the gross operating margin to nominal added value ratio (a proxy for self-financing) and of the real interest rate applied to loans. To test the robustness of the results obtained in the first specification of the model, we remove the assumption of weak exogeneity of the independent variables of the single equation model and construct a multivariate multi-equation model (VECM). All of the different approaches and methods adopted provided similar results: as expected, the demand for credit increases as real added value increases and decreases as the cost of lending and self-financing increase. The dynamic out-of-sample forecast of the model, relating to the two-year period of economic and financial crisis (2007.Q3 – 2009.Q2), shows that the actual loan stock remained well above the “theoretical” level forecasted on the basis of the functional relationships estimated before the crisis. This delta (which can be defined as “extra-credit”) is interpreted as the outcome of a rightward shift of the credit supply curve, rather than a leftward shift as would have happened in a credit crunch scenario.
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