We demonstrate that the impact of increases in uncertainty on bank credit conditions depends on the level of uncertainty. Using firm-level survey data, we document that a surge in business-specific uncertainty is particularly damaging when this uncertainty is low: low levels nearly triple the effect compared to high levels. The result is robust to controlling for recessionary periods. To provide an interpretation, we build and calibrate a stylized model in which bank lending is governed by expectations about the future level of business uncertainty. Increases in uncertainty serve as a signal to update these expectations. The model predicts that expectations are revised more strongly and, thus, lending drops more under low uncertainty.
uncertainty financial frictions bank lending survey data