Access to credit in Argentina
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Abstract The present work examines the access to credit by financially constrained SMEs in Argentina over the last decade, focusing on the role played by public banks, state credit policies, and non-traditional lending contracts such as leasing, factoring, microcredit and others. We loosely define financially constrained firms as those with good projects and insufficient internal funding. Our conclusions are the following: (a); Since not all SMEs are financially constrained in the previous sense but many of them would be willing to raise at better-than-market terms, a major challenge of any governmental policy aimed to deal with market failures (asymmetric information and intermediation costs); is to carefully sorting out applicants; (b); However, the actual operation seems to lack the technical independence nor resources to implement this basic principle; (c); More importantly, credit policies do not show the desirable degree of transparency towards taxpayers and other interested parties, making it difficult to pass any sound judgment about the impact of the programs in place on production, employment, and income distribution; (d); Based on publicly available information, public banks do not appear to perform better than private banks in improving the access to credit; and (e); Nontraditional instruments should not be expected to be the key for a structural solution to this issue. We finally propose a number of practical guidelines to strengthen the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of governmental credit policies.