Innovation in Financial Services, Relationships and Risk Sharing
Relationships between intermediaries and their customers have become increasingly important in recent years. This paper argues that the need for costly ex ante information acquisition and analysis is a major barrier to the participation of investors and firms in sophisticated markets. Long-term relationships between intermediaries and their customers, in which intermediaries provide implicit insurance to customers, can be an effective substitute for costly ex ante investigation. In this way, intermediaries allow firms and investors to reap the benefits of financial markets. Relationships are easiest to sustain when the ongoing benefits to both parties are high. As a result competition may lower the benefits that can be obtained from relationships. This paper was presented at the Financial Institutions Center's conference on Performance of Financial Institutions, May 8-10, 1997.
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