Lending to small businesses: the role of loan maturity in addressing information problems
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We investigate what determines the maturity of lines of credit to small businesses. Our results provide strong support for the hypothesis that shorter loan maturities serve to mitigate the problems associated with borrower risk and asymmetric information that are typical of small business lending. We find that maturity is shorter for firm owners that have poor credit histories, are older, and less experienced, and for firms that are more informationally opaque. Supporting the notion that collateral and maturity are substitute mechanisms in mitigating agency problems, we also find strong evidence that maturity increases with collateral pledges, that personal collateral is associated with longer maturities than business collateral, and that collateral types that better mitigate agency problems reduce the sensitivity of loan maturity to informational asymmetries and risk. Finally, while it is argued that relationship lending may mitigate information asymmetry, we find no relation between loan maturity and stronger firm-creditor ties.
KeywordsLoan maturity Collateral Small businesses Relationship lending
JEL ClassificationG21 G32 L26
We are grateful to Ugo Albertazzi, Lawrence Ausubel, Roger Betancourt, Hans Degryse, Sonia Falconieri, Mark Flannery, Florian Heider, Vasso Ioannidou, Ginger Jin, Robert Marquez, Steven Ongena, Alberto Pozzolo, Philip Strahan, and to seminar participants at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, University of Maryland, Ente Luigi Einaudi, the Workshop on Relationship Banking at the University of Lille 2, the Northern Finance Association Meetings 2005 and the European Central Bank, for their comments and suggestions. Ortiz-Molina thanks the Social Science Human Research Council of Canada for financial support. Any remaining errors are our own.
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