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Un-used Bank Capital Buffers and Credit Supply Shocks at SMEs during the Pandemic
Did banks curb lending to creditworthy small and mid-sized enterprises (SME) during the COVID-19 pandemic? Sitting on top of minimum capital requirements, regulatory capital buffers introduced after the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) are costly regions of "rainy day" equity capital designed to absorb losses and provide lending capacity in a downturn. Using a novel set of confidential loan level data that includes private SME firms, we show that "buffer-constrained" banks (those entering the pandemic with capital ratios close to this regulatory buffer region) reduced loan commitments to ...