Financial Incentives and Loan Officer Behavior: Multitasking and Allocation of Effort under an Incomplete Contract
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis,
We investigate the implications of providing loan officers with a nonlinear compensation structure that rewards loan volume and penalizes poor performance. Using a unique data set provided by a large international commercial bank, we examine the main activities that loan officers perform: loan prospecting, screening, and monitoring. We find that when loan officers are at risk of losing their bonuses, they increase prospecting and monitoring. We further show that loan officers adjust their behavior more toward the end of the month when bonus payments are approaching. These effects are more pronounced for loan officers with longer tenures at the bank.
Deleveraging and Consumer Credit Supply in the Wake of the 2008–09 Financial Crisis
International Journal of Central Banking,
We explore the sources of the decline in household nonmortgage debt following the collapse of the housing market in 2006. First, we use data from the Federal Reserve Board's Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey to document that, post-2006, banks tightened consumer lending standards more in counties that experienced a more pronounced house price decline (the pre-2006 "boom" counties). We then use the idea that renters did not experience an adverse wealth or collateral shock when the housing market collapsed to identify a general consumer credit supply shock. Our evidence suggests that a tightening of the supply of non-mortgage credit that was independent of the direct effects of lower housing collateral values played an important role in households' non-mortgage debt reduction. Renters decreased their non-mortgage debt more in boom counties than in non-boom counties, but homeowners did not. We argue that this wedge between renters and homeowners can only have arisen from a general tightening of banks' consumer lending stance. Using an IV approach, we trace this effect back to a reduction in bank capital of banks in boom counties.
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Rules versus Discretion in Loan Rate Setting
Journal of Financial Intermediation,
Loan rates for seemingly identical borrowers often exhibit substantial dispersion. This paper investigates the determinants of the dispersion in interest rates on loans granted by banks to small and medium sized enterprises. We associate this dispersion with the loan officers’ use of “discretion” in the loan rate setting process. We find that “discretion” is most important if: (i) loans are small and unsecured; (ii) firms are small and opaque; (iii) the firm operates in a large and highly concentrated banking market; and (iv) the firm is distantly located from the lender. Consistent with the proliferation of information-technologies in the banking industry, we find a decreasing role for “discretion” over time in the provision of small credits to opaque firms. While widely used in the pricing of loans, “discretion” plays only a minor role in the decisions to grant loans.