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Bank Lending Standards Generally Unchanged in Q2 2017

Results of the Q2 2017 Senior Bank Loan Officers' Survey (SLOS)1 showed that most of the respondent banks continued to maintain their credit standards for loans to both enterprises and households during the quarter based on the modal approach.2,3 This is the 33rd consecutive quarter since Q2 2009 that the majority of respondent banks reported broadly unchanged credit standards. (See Chart 1).

Meanwhile, the diffusion index (DI) approach4 pointed to a net tightening of credit standards for loans extended to enterprises while those for households were unchanged. In the previous quarter, credit standards for corporate lending likewise showed a net tightening while those for household lending were also unchanged based on the DI approach.

The BSP has been conducting the SLOS since 2009 to gain a better understanding of banks' lending behavior, which is an important indicator of the strength of credit activity in the country. The survey also helps the BSP assess the robustness of demand conditions as well as conditions in asset markets, and the strength of bank lending as a transmission channel of monetary policy. The survey consists of questions on loan officers' perceptions relating to the overall credit standards of universal/commercial banks (U/KBs) in the Philippines, as well as to factors affecting the supply of and demand for loans by both enterprises and households.5 Survey questions were sent to 35 commercial banks,6 32 of whom sent their responses to the latest survey, representing a response rate of 91.4 percent.7 The analysis in the survey is based on the quarter-on-quarter changes in the perception of respondent banks.

Lending to Enterprises

Most banks (90.0 percent of banks that responded to the question) indicated that credit standards for loans to enterprises remained unchanged during the quarter using the modal approach. However, results based on the DI approach indicated net tightening of credit standards for business loans attributed to less favorable economic outlook, respondent banks' perception of stricter financial system regulations and reduced tolerance for risk. In terms of specific credit standards, the net tightening of overall credit standards is reflected in respondent banks' stricter loan covenants for loans across all firm sizes (except micro enterprises) and increased use of interest rate floors for loans to micro, small and medium enterprises.8

In terms of borrower firm size, banks' responses showed net tighter overall credit standards across firm sizes based on the DI approach.

Results based on the modal approach showed that most of the respondent banks anticipated unchanged credit standards over the next quarter. Meanwhile, the DI approach showed that some respondent banks expect overall credit standards for business loans to tighten over the next quarter largely on account of banks' less favorable economic outlook and expectations of stricter financial system regulations.

Lending to Households

The results of the survey also showed that most respondent banks (81.8 percent) kept their overall credit standards unchanged for loans extended to households during the quarter based on the modal approach. Likewise, results based on the DI approach reflected unchanged credit standards, given the equal number of respondent banks that indicated a tightening of credit standards and those that answered easing of credit standards. In particular, credit standards for auto loans were unchanged based on the DI approach. The maintained overall credit standards were attributed by respondent banks to their unchanged tolerance for risk and stable profile of their household borrowers. In terms of specific credit standards, results based on the DI approach indicated overall unchanged collateral requirements, loan covenants and loan maturities.

Over the next quarter, results based on the modal approach indicated that the majority of the respondent banks anticipated maintaining their overall credit standards. Meanwhile, the DI approach showed expectations of an overall net easing of credit standards, particularly for housing, auto and personal/salary loans, on the back of respondent banks' increased tolerance for risk and anticipated improvement in the profitability and liquidity of their portfolio, along with expectations of an improvement in household borrowers' profile in Q3 2017.

Loan Demand

Responses to the survey question on loan demand indicated that the majority of the respondent banks continued to see stable overall demand for loans from both enterprises and households (See Chart 2). Using the DI approach, however, results showed a net increase in loan demand9 across all firm sizes and all types of household loans. The net increase in loan demand of firms was largely attributed by banks to higher requirements of borrower firms for working capital and accounts receivable financing. Meanwhile, respondent banks attributed the net increase in demand for household loans largely to low interest rates and banks' more attractive financing terms, among others.

Over the next quarter, most of the respondent banks expect unchanged loan demand from both firms and households. However, a larger proportion of respondents expected overall demand for corporate and household loans to increase further in the next quarter relative to those that indicated the opposite. Respondent banks cited expectations of higher working capital and accounts receivable financing needs and investments in plant and equipment of borrower firms as the key factors behind the expected increase in demand for business loans. Meanwhile, the anticipated net increase in household loan demand was attributed by respondent banks to expectations of more attractive financing terms offered being to clients along with higher household consumption and low interest rates.

Real Estate Loans

Most of the respondent banks (95.5 percent) also indicated unchanged credit standards for commercial real estate loans in Q2 2017. The DI approach, however, continued to indicate a net tightening of overall credit standards for commercial real estate loans for the sixth consecutive quarter. The tighter overall credit standards for commercial real estate loans reflected respondent banks' wider loan margins, reduced credit line sizes, stricter collateral requirements and loan covenants, shorter loan tenors, and increased use of interest rate floors. Over the next quarter, while majority of the respondent banks foresee maintaining their credit standards for commercial real estate loans, DI-based results point to expectations of continued net tightening of credit standards for the said type of loan.

Demand for commercial real estate loans was also unchanged in Q2 2017 based on the modal approach. A number of banks, however, indicated increased demand for the said type of loan on the back of increased accounts receivable financing needs, improvement in customers' economic outlook, banks' more attractive financing terms and lower interest rates. Over the next quarter, although most of the respondent banks anticipate generally steady loan demand, a number of banks expect demand for commercial real estate loans to continue to increase.

Meanwhile, in the case of housing loans extended to households, most of the respondent banks (84.2 percent) reported unchanged credit standards. However, a larger proportion of respondents reported tighter credit standards for housing loans relative to those who indicated the opposite. The net tightening of credit standards for housing loans was attributed by respondent banks largely to their reduced tolerance for risk, a decline in borrowers' profiles and perceived stricter financial system regulations. Over the next quarter, results based on the modal approach showed that a large majority of banks expects unchanged overall credit standards for housing loans. However, the DI approach pointed to expectations of a net easing of overall credit standards for housing loans as respondent banks foresee an improvement in the profitability and liquidity of their portfolio, an increase in banks' deposit base and higher tolerance for risk. At the same time, results continued to show increased demand for housing loans in Q2 2017 as well as expectations of a continued increase in demand for the said type of loan in the next quarter.

Source: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP)

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