Non-standard monetary policy: what impact on small and medium-sized enterprises financing?

By Christophe CAHN and Anne DUQUERROY

Following the 2011 crisis, the European Central Bank lent massively to Eurosystem banks while extending the range of assets accepted as collateral for these loans. This Rue de la Banque shows that, by targeting a particular asset class, the easing of the collateral policy has made it possible to increase the supply of private financing to French small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular those with a single bank. The measure has also reduced the contagion effects of financial distress without encouraging excessive risk-taking.

Access to financing is critical for the growth and development of small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs), especially in times of crisis. In terms of external financing, French SMEs have recourse almost exclusively to bank financing. This strong reliance on banks is also characterised by a small number of banking relationships. 80% of French SMEs have only one bank. These companies are therefore particularly vulnerable to bank shocks. Ensuring SMEs’ access to credit in times of crisis has been one of the main objectives of the non‑standard monetary policy measures taken by central banks since 2008. In this Rue de la Banque, we look at the effect on lending to French SMEs of the second long‑term refinancing operation conducted by the Europeªn Central Bank (ECB) at the beginning of 2012 (LTRO 21), which in France was accompanied by a change in the collateral eligibility criteria to be met by banks to access this liquidity.

In a crisis setting marked by a sharp decline in the demand for credit, isolating and assessing the impact of such measures can be difficult. We present the methodology used in our article (Cahn et al., 2017) which enables us, within the same bank, to measure this effect on lending volumes and to understand how banks adjust their loan portfolio: who do they lend to? Do they favour borrowers with whom they have a strong banking relationship? Does this lead to a misallocation of credit to riskier borrowers?