The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
The paper analyzes the effects of informational asymmetries on the market structure of the banking industry in a multi-period model of spatial competition. All lenders face uncertainty with regard to borrowers’ creditworthiness, but, in the process of lending, incumbent banks gather proprietary information about their clients, acquiring an advantage over potential entrants. These informational asymmetries are an important determinant of the industry structure and may represent a barrier to entry for new banks. The paper shows that, in contrast with traditional models of horizontal differentiation, the steady-state equilibrium is characterized by a finite number of banks even in the absence of fixed costs.