Monday, November 21, 2016

Banking Competition and Firm-Level Financial Constraints in Latin America

Roberto Álvarez and Mauricio Jara examine Banking Competition and Firm-Level Financial Constraints in Latin America.

ABSTRACT: Prior literature argues that, given the existence of information asymmetries and agency costs, higher competition may increase financial constraints by reducing banks’ incentives to build lending relationships. Using a sample of listed firms for six Latin American countries, we analyze the relation between banking competition and financial constraints. We find evidence in line with prior research that banking competition increases financial constraints. This result is robust and heterogeneous. We include other country-specific variables and check the robustness of our findings; the main results hold. Our results show that the effect of competition differs across firms and industries. Specifically, consistent with the information hypothesis, the negative impact of competition is higher for small quoted firms and for low assets tangibility industries. Also, as expected, we find evidence that firms are more affected by financial constraints during the last crisis. This negative effect is larger for firms in more competitive banking industries.

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