• Asymmetric information;
  • banking;
  • competition;
  • loan-pricing;
  • lock-in
  • G21;
  • L15


We derive empirical implications from a theoretical model of bank–borrower relationships. The interest-rate mark-ups of banks are predicted to follow a life-cycle pattern over the age of the borrowing firms. Because of endogenous bank monitoring by competing banks, borrowing firms initially face a low mark-up, and thereafter an increasing mark-up as a result of informational lock-in, until it falls for older firms when the lock-in is resolved. By applying a large sample of predominantly small unlisted firms and a new measure of asymmetric information, we find that firms with significant asymmetric-information problems have a more pronounced life-cycle pattern of interest-rate mark-ups. Additionally, we examine the effects of concentrated banking markets on interest-rate mark-ups. The results indicate that the life cycle of mark-ups is mainly driven by asymmetric-information problems and not by concentration. However, we find evidence that bank market concentration matters for older firms