Bank Regulation and the Credit Crunch Bank Regulation and the Credit Crunch

Revised article published in Journal of Banking and Finance 19, no. 1 (June 1995) 769-792.

This study investigates the direct link between regulatory enforcement actions and the shrinkage of bank loans to sectors likely to be bank dependent. We focus on New England because that region has experienced both the widespread application of formal regulatory actions and substantial reductions in new lending by banks. Controlling for weakness in loan demand, previous studies have been able to attribute part of this bank shrinkage to loan supply, with the degree of a bank's shrinkage related to its capital-to-asset ratio. In this study, we further partition the shrinkage due to loan supply into the component due to explicit regulatory enforcement actions and that due to a voluntary response by bank management to low capital-to-asset ratios. We find that banks with formal actions shrink at a significantly faster rate than those without, even after controlling for differences in capital-to-asset ratios. Furthermore, much of the reduced lending has been in loan categories containing primarily bank-dependent borrowers, indicating that the capital crunch has resulted in a credit crunch.