Access to credit for Italian firms: new evidence from the ISTAT confidence business surveys
The paper aims at investigating on the credit conditions experienced by Italian firms during the recent business cycle. In doing so, we use a novel dataset on firms’ opinions derived from the ISTAT Business Confidence surveys. The dataset allows us to add to existing literature in three different ways: first of all, the availability of a very rich set of information on firms' perceptions enables us to study a number of factors possibly influencing credit conditions at the firm level; secondly, the analysis may be extended beyond the Manufacturing sector, considering also the Construction, Retail and Services sectors; thirdly, the high frequency of the data helps in shedding light into the most recent period following the sovereign debt crisis, for which available evidence is still scarce. Starting from these considerations, three different panel data model are estimated, relating the probability of being credit constrained to various individual characteristics of the firms and of the sector in which they operate. Obtaining credit for Italian firms results to be easier in the North and being a Medium-Large firm. Moreover, access to credit is also found to crucially depend on individual credit worthiness; in Manufacturing, productive internationalization is found to have a negative effect on access to credit. Over time, credit conditions are particularly negative during the financial crisis, progressively recovering in 2009-2010. A new deterioration has been perceived by Italian firms since mid-2011, with the emerging of the sovereign debt crisis; this assessment is progressively translating into an effective credit rationing towards the end of last year and in the first months of 2012.
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