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Not All Shocks Are Created Equal: Assessing Heterogeneity in the Bank Lending Channel

Laura Blattner
Publication Year 
JEL Code 
E52 - Monetary Policy (Targets, Instruments, and Effects)
E58 - Central Banks and Their Policies
G18 - Government Policy and Regulation
G21 - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Mortgages
We provide evidence that the strength of the bank lending channel varies considerably across three major positive events in the European sovereign debt crisis – the Greek debt restructuring (PSI), outright monetary transactions (OMT), and quantitative easing (QE). We study how lending responds to each event combining credit registry data with security-level bank balance sheet data from Portugal, a country that was directly exposed to all three events. Even though the price of sovereign debt increased by substantially more after the PSI and OMT announcements, only QE had statistically and economically significant effects on lending to firms and households. We find that banks only realized trading gains after QE but not the other two events. These results suggest that banks’ incentives to sell bonds are an important determinant of the transmission of sovereign debt interventions to the real economy.
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