Understanding the weakness of bank lending

Quarterly Bulletin 2010 Q4
Published on 13 December 2010

By Venetia Bell and Garry Young of the Bank's Monetary Assessment and Strategy Division.

The flow of new bank lending to UK households and businesses fell sharply following the start of the global financial crisis in mid-2007. That provoked an ongoing debate about the extent to which the sustained weakening of bank lending was caused by a fall in demand for credit, or a fall in supply. While it is difficult to disentangle the effects of shifts in credit demand and supply, this article finds evidence of a substantial and persistent tightening in credit supply conditions from mid-2007. But independently weaker credit demand — probably associated with the impact of the global financial crisis — is also likely to have contributed to the weakness in bank lending.

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