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The Role of Long-Term Contracting in Business Lending

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This paper examines inefficiencies arising from a lack of long-term contracting in small business lending in China. I develop and estimate a dynamic model where firms repeatedly interact with the same lender. All loans are short-term. Collateral can be used to deter a strategic default by a firm, but the lender cannot recover the full value of the collateral in the case of a default. The endogenous contract terms—including interest rates, loan size and collateral—reflect a firm’s probability of default in equilibrium. Learning drives the dynamics of contract terms because a firm’s profitability type is unknown. Long-term contracts improve welfare mainly by mitigating the incentives for a firm to default. 

JEL Code(s): D, D8, D83, D86, G, G2, G21, L, L1, L14, L2, L26