Bridging the Gap? Government Subsidized Lending and Access to Capital (with Josh Lerner)

Review of Corporate Finance Studies, vol. 2, no. 1 (March 2013): 98–128.  

The consequences of providing public funds to financial institutions remain controversial. We examine the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund’s impact on credit union activity, using hitherto little studied U.S. Treasury data. The CDFI Fund grants increase lending at credit unions by 3%. For every dollar awarded, 45 additional cents are loaned out to borrowers in the first year, and up to an additional $1.60 is loaned out within three years. Delinquent loan rates also increase slightly. Our panel results are supported by a broadband regression discontinuity analysis. Politics does not seem to play a role in allocating funding. 

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Working Papers

Did Local Lenders Forecast the Bust? Evidence from the Real Estate Market 

This paper shows that mortgage lenders with a physical branch near the property being financed have better information about home-price fundamentals than non-local lenders. During the real estate run-up from 2002-06, home price growth negatively correlates with the share of loans made by local lenders, namely lenders with a branch in the respective county. Moreover, home prices fell less from 2006-09 in areas where more of the loans were made by local lenders. California foreclosure rates during the crisis are negatively correlated with local lending during the run-up. A 1 standard deviation increase in local loans is associated with 5 fewer foreclosures for every one thousand houses. When local lenders retain loans for their portfolio rather than securitizing, the results for both home price growth and foreclosures are even stronger.

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New Firms, Job Creation and Access to Local Finance 

I document the benefits of access to local finance for new and small firms using detailed employment data on firm age and size. I use natural disasters and regulatory guidance to disentangle the effects of credit supply and demand. I find that an additional standard deviation of local finance offsets the negative effects of the disaster and can lead to 1 to 2% higher employment growth.  I show that local lenders increase lending but are not borrowing against future lending.  The findings suggest that local lenders play an important and necessary role in job creation in the economy. 

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