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Trade Credit: Theories and Evidence


In addition to borrowing from financial institutions, firms may be financed by their suppliers. Although there are many theories explaining why non-financial firms lend money, there are few comprehensive empirical tests of these theories. This paper attempts to fill the gap. We focus on a sample of small firms whose access to capital markets may be limited. We find evidence that firms use trade credit relatively more when credit from financial institutions is not available. Thus while short term trade credit may be routinely used to minimize transactions costs, medium term borrowing against trade credit is a form of financing of last resort. Suppliers lend to firms no one else lends to because they may have a comparative advantage in getting information about buyers cheaply, they have a better ability to liquidate goods, and they have a greater implicit equity stake in the firm's long term survival. We find some evidence consistent with the use of trade credit as a means of price discrimination. Finally, we find that firms with better access to credit from financial institutions offer more trade credit. This suggests that firms may intermediate between institutional creditors and other firms who have limited access to financial institutions.

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Paper provided by Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago in its series CRSP working papers with number 322.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:chispw:322
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  1. Charles W. Calomiris & Charles P. Himmelberg & Paul Wachtel, 1994. "Commercial Paper, Corporate Finance and the Business Cycle: A Microeconomic Perspective," Working Papers 94-17, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
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  4. Emery, Gary W., 1984. "A Pure Financial Explanation for Trade Credit," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(03), pages 271-285, September.
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  6. Rogers, F. Halsey, 1994. "“Man to Loan $1500 and Serve as Clerk”: Trading Jobs for Loans in Mid-Nineteenth-Century San Francisco," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(01), pages 34-63, March.
  7. Myers, Stewart C., 1984. "Capital structure puzzle," Working papers 1548-84., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
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  9. Petersen, Mitchell A & Rajan, Raghuram G, 1994. " The Benefits of Lending Relationships: Evidence from Small Business Data," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(1), pages 3-37, March.
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  12. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1994. "What Do We Know About Capital Structure? Some Evidence from International Data," NBER Working Papers 4875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Diamond, Douglas W, 1991. "Debt Maturity Structure and Liquidity Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 709-37, August.
  14. Mian, Shehzad L & Smith, Clifford W, Jr, 1992. " Accounts Receivable Management Policy: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(1), pages 169-200, March.
  15. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1991. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 3906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Brennan, Michael J & Maksimovic, Vojislav & Zechner, Josef, 1988. " Vendor Financing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(5), pages 1127-41, December.
  17. Slovin, Myron B & Sushka, Marie E & Polonchek, John A, 1993. " The Value of Bank Durability: Borrowers as Bank Stakeholders," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(1), pages 247-66, March.
  18. Stewart C. Myers, 1984. "Capital Structure Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 1393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Emery, Gary W., 1987. "An Optimal Financial Response to Variable Demand," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(02), pages 209-225, June.
  20. Schwartz, Robert A., 1974. "An Economic Model of Trade Credit," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(04), pages 643-657, September.
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