| Peter Klein |
The idea of a renegotiation-proof equilibrium — a situation in which all commitments are credible such that no party has an incentive to alter the arrangement — became popular in the game-theoretic contract literature in the 1980s. A recent paper by Michael Roberts shows that renegotiation is much more common in bank lending than is commonly recognized (by academics), suggesting that in many cases, formal financial contracting arrangements should be seen as starting points for future negotiation, not equilibrium agreements.
We show that bank loans are repeatedly renegotiated by the borrower in an effort to loosen contractual constraints designed to mitigate information asymmetry. The typical loan is renegotiated every eight months, or four times during the life of the contract. The frequency of renegotiation is closely linked to the restrictiveness of the initial contact and the degree of information asymmetry between borrower and lender. In addition to significantly altering the terms of the contract, renegotiation reduces the speed of information revelation – more anticipated renegotiation rounds lead to longer durations between those renegotiations as information evolves more slowly. Consequently, later renegotiation rounds are more sensitive to new information regarding the borrower and their outside options than early rounds. An important by-product of our study is to show that many of the observations in the Dealscan database correspond to renegotiations of the same credit agreement, as opposed to originations of new loans.