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Lending without creditor rights, collateral, or reputation: The “trusted assistant” loan in 19th century China

Meng Miao, Niu Guanjie and Thomas Noe

No 13/2017, BOFIT Discussion Papers from Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition

Abstract: This paper considers lending to finance projects in a setting where repayment enforcement appears impossible. The loan was illegal and thus legally unenforceable. Creditors were incapable of applying private coercion to force repayment. Borrowers lacked both collateral and reputation capital. Project cash flows were unobservable. The projects were the acquisition of Imperial administrative posts by scholars in nineteenth century Qing China. The lending mechanism was the “trusted-assistant loan.” Our model of trusted-assistant lending shows that it is a renegotiation-proof implementation of efficient state dependent financing. Empirical analysis of officials’ diaries and bank records shows that the employment of trusted-assistant lending and the performance of trusted-assistant loans conforms roughly with the model’s predictions.

JEL-codes: N25 G21 D86 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017-08-29
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna, nep-his and nep-ppm
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Published in Forthcoming in Journal of Financial Economics as "Contracting without contracting institutions — The "trusted-assistant" loan in 19th century China"

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