Effects of regulatory changes in microcredit on the financial and social performance of Brazilian credit unions

ABSTRACT This study investigates whether the performance of credit unions that offer microcredit in Brazil was affected by the advent of Crescer - the National Microcredit Program. This research fills a gap in the literature because few papers investigate credit unions that work with microcredit and also the effects of governmental interventions related to microcredit operations. Studies of this type may help evaluate the impact of governmental interventions on the performance of the institutions that are directly or indirectly affected. Our results add to the debate about microcredit and about the inclusion of credit unions in this market. In particular, our evidence may influence the design of public policies and the strategies of microfinance institutions, which typically combine economic and social objectives. Based on the literature, we calculate fifteen indicators for each credit union, related to their financial and social performance. The inferences are based on the implementation of the difference in differences estimator using the advent of Crescer, in 2011, as the exogenous event of interest and including in the control group the credit unions that did not provide microcredit loans throughout the sample period. This research presents evidence that the volume of clients and microcredit operations performed by Brazilian credit unions was positively affected by regulatory changes that took place in 2011, consistently with the objectives of the governmental intervention. The evidence also suggests that the governmental intervention did not harm the financial sustainability of the credit unions. The main changes are: a substantial reduction of interest rates and transaction costs, the implementation of subsidies to participants in the program, and a push for public banks to enhance their supply of productive and oriented microcredit.