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Borrowers Under Water! Rare Disasters, Regional Banks, and Recovery Lending

We test if and how banks adjust their lending in response to disaster risk in the form of a natural catastrophe striking its customers: the 2013 Elbe flooding. The flood affected firms in East and South Germany, and we identify shocked banks based on bank-firm relationships gathered for more than a million firms. Banks with relationships to flooded firms lend 13-23% more than banks without such customers compared to the preflooding period. This lending hike is associated with higher profitability and reduced risk. Our results suggest that local banks are an effective mechanism to mitigate rare disaster shocks faced especially by small and medium firms.

28. November 2016

Authors Michael Koetter Felix Noth Oliver Rehbein

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Borrowers Under Water! Rare Disasters, Regional Banks, and Recovery Lending

Michael Koetter Felix Noth Oliver Rehbein

in: Journal of Financial Intermediation, forthcoming

Abstract

We show that local banks provide corporate recovery lending to firms affected by adverse regional macro shocks. Banks that reside in counties unaffected by the natural disaster that we specify as macro shock increase lending to firms inside affected counties by 3%. Firms domiciled in flooded counties, in turn, increase corporate borrowing by 16% if they are connected to banks in unaffected counties. We find no indication that recovery lending entails excessive risk-taking or rent-seeking. However, within the group of shock-exposed banks, those without access to geographically more diversified interbank markets exhibit more credit risk and less equity capital.

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