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Foreign Currency Borrowing by Small Firms

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  • Martin Brown
  • Steven Ongena
  • Pinar Yesin

Abstract

We examine the firm- and country-level determinants of the currency denomination of small business loans. We first model the choice of loan currency in a framework which features a trade-off between lower cost of debt and the risk of firm-level distress costs, and also examines the impact of information asymmetry between banks and firms. When foreign currency funds come at a lower interest rate, all foreign currency earners as well as those local currency earners with high revenues and low distress costs choose foreign currency loans. When the banks have imperfect information on the currency and level of firms revenues, even more local earners switch to foreign currency loans, as they do not bear the full cost of the corresponding credit risk. We then test the implications of our model by using a 2005 survey with responses from 9,655 firms in 26 transition countries. The survey contains details on 3,105 recent bank loans. At the firm level, our findings suggest that firms with foreign currency income and assets are more likely to borrow in a foreign currency. In contrast, firm-level distress costs and financial transparency affect the currency denomination only weakly. At the country level, the interest rate advantages of foreign currency funds and the exchange rate volatility do not explain the foreign currency borrowing in our sample. However, foreign bank presence, weak corporate governance and the absence of capital controls encourage foreign currency borrowing. All in all, we cannot confirm that "carry-trade behavior" is the key driver of foreign currency borrowing by small firms in transition economies. Our results do, however, support the conjecture that banking-sector structures and institutions that aggravate information asymmetries may facilitate foreign currency borrowing.

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  • Martin Brown & Steven Ongena & Pinar Yesin, 2009. "Foreign Currency Borrowing by Small Firms," Working Papers 2009-02, Swiss National Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:snb:snbwpa:2009-02
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    3. Elisabeth Beckmann & Sandra Dvorsky & Thomas Scheiber, 2011. "OeNB Euro Survey: Growing Uncertainty, but Overall Euroization Not Affected," Focus on European Economic Integration, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 4, pages 88-99.
    4. Friederike Niepmann & Tim Schmidt-Eisenlohr, 2017. "Foreign Currency Loans and Credit Risk: Evidence from U.S. Banks," CESifo Working Paper Series 6700, CESifo.
    5. Brown, M. & Kirschenmann, K. & Ongena, S., 2009. "Foreign Currency Loans - Demand or Supply Driven?," Discussion Paper 2009-78, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    6. Martin Brown & Steven Ongena & Alexander Popov & Pinar Yeşin, 2011. "Who needs credit and who gets credit in Eastern Europe? [Interaction terms in logit and probit models]," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 26(65), pages 93-130.
    7. Mariya Hake & Fernando Lopez-Vicente & Luis Molina, 2014. "Do the Drivers of Loan Dollarization Differ between CESEE and Latin America? A Meta-Analysis," Focus on European Economic Integration, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue 1, pages 8-35.
    8. Beer, Christian & Ongena, Steven & Peter, Marcel, 2010. "Borrowing in foreign currency: Austrian households as carry traders," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(9), pages 2198-2211, September.
    9. Raphael Auer & Sebastien Kraenzlin, 2011. "International liquidity provision during the financial crisis: a view from Switzerland," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 93(Nov), pages 409-418.
    10. Brown, Martin & Lane, Philip R., 2011. "Debt overhang in emerging Europe ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5784, The World Bank.
    11. Kent Matthews, 2014. "Cost Inefficiency in the Pakistan Banking Sector 2002-2009," SBP Research Bulletin, State Bank of Pakistan, Research Department, vol. 10, pages 1-20.
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    15. Marijana Ivanov & Marina Tkalec & Maruška Vizek, 2011. "The Determinants of Financial Euroization in a Post-Transition Country: Do Threshold Effects Matter?," Czech Journal of Economics and Finance (Finance a uver), Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, vol. 61(3), pages 230-251, July.
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    17. Brown, Martin & Ongena, Steven & Yesin, Pinar, 2011. "Foreign currency borrowing by small firms in the transition economies," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 285-302, July.
    18. Marina Tkalec, 2013. "Monetary Determinants of Deposit Euroization in European Post-Transition Countries," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 60(1), pages 89-101, March.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    foreign currency borrowing; competition; banking sector; market structure;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • F37 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Finance Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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