Discussion paper

DP14754 On-site inspecting zombie lending

In spite of growing regulatory pressure in most developed economies, “zombie lending” remains a widespread practice by banks. In this paper we exploit a series of large-scale on-site inspections made on the credit portfolios of several Portuguese banks to investigate how these inspections affect banks’ future lending decisions. We find that an inspected bank becomes 20% less likely to refinance zombie firms, immediately spurring their default. However, banks change their lending decisions only in the inspected sectors. Overall, banks seemingly reduce zombie lending because the incentives to hold these loans disappear once they are forced to recognize losses.


Bonfim, D, G Cerqueiro, H Degryse and S Ongena (2020), ‘DP14754 On-site inspecting zombie lending‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 14754. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14754