Article first published online: 28th November 2017 DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12589
I identify the effects of personal relationships on loan contracting using executive deaths and retirements at other firms as a source of exogenous variation in executive turnover. After plausibly exogenous turnover, borrowers choose lenders with which their new executives have personal relationships 4.1 times as frequently, and loans from these lenders have 20 basis points lower spreads and 12.5% larger amounts. Personal relationships benefit firms across loan terms, especially during macroeconomic downturns. Increased financial flexibility from personal relationships insulated firms from financial shocks during the recent financial crisis: they exhibited less constrained investment and were less likely to layoff employees.