Political Uncertainty and the Geographic Allocation of Credit: Evidence from Small Businesses
We investigate how political uncertainty affects the geographic distribution of bank lending to small businesses. Using exogenous variation in gubernatorial elections with binding term limits, we show that political uncertainty causes local banks to increase out-of-state lending to small firms, especially to firms located in the wealthiest out-of-state counties. The increase in credit availability in turn leads to an increase in employment growth and net firm creation in sectors that need larger amounts of startup capital. Our results indicate that geographic diversification and financial integration enable banks to sidestep the negative local economic effects of political uncertainty.