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A Quantitative Theory of Relationship Lending

Banks' loan pricing decisions reflect the fact that borrowers tend to have long-lasting relationships with lenders. Therefore, pricing decisions have an inherently dynamic component: high interest rates may yield higher static profits per loan, but in the long run they erode a banks' customer base and reduce future profitability. We study this tradeoff using a dynamic banking model which embeds lending relationships using deep habits (“customer capital”) and costs of adjusting loan portfolio composition. High customer capital raises the level and decreases the interest rate elasticity of loan demand. When faced with an adverse shock to net worth, banks with high customer capital recapitalize quickly by charging high interest rates and eroding customer capital in the short term, while banks with low customer capital face persistent financial distress. Using Call Report data to measure the franchise value of banks' loan portfolios, we find that this effect has strong implications for how individual banks and the financial sector as a whole recover from shocks.

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https://doi.org/10.20955/wp.2022.033