, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 335-355
Date: 21 Nov 2008

Is banking competition beneficial to SMEs? An empirical study based on Italian data

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Using a large panel of Italian firms, spanning the years from 1995 to 2003, this study investigates the relationship between bank debt and non-financial SMEs’ performance, evaluating whether and to what extent this link is affected by the degree of competition characterising the local credit market where firms operate. Controlling for inertia, unobserved heterogeneity and the endogeneity of some performance determinants, we find that the (negative) impact of bank debt on firms’ performance is weaker for firms running in more competitive banking markets. We interpret this result as evidence that a more intense banking competition may lead to better credit conditions for small and medium-sized firms.