Rules versus discretion in loan rate setting

G.M. Cerqueiro, H.A. Degryse, S. Ongena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Loan rates for seemingly identical borrowers often exhibit substantial dispersion. This paper investigates the determinants of the dispersion in interest rates on loans granted by banks to small and medium sized enterprises. We associate this dispersion with the loan officers’ use of “discretion” in the loan rate setting process. We find that “discretion” is most important if: (i) loans are small and unsecured; (ii) firms are small and opaque; (iii) the firm operates in a large and highly concentrated banking market; and (iv) the firm is distantly located from the lender. Consistent with the proliferation of information-technologies in the banking industry, we find a decreasing role for “discretion” over time in the provision of small credits to opaque firms. While widely used in the pricing of loans, “discretion” plays only a minor role in the decisions to grant loans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-529
JournalJournal of Financial Intermediation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Rules versus discretion in loan rate setting'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this