Using a unique dataset of the Euro area and the U.S. bank lending standards, we find that low (monetary policy) short-term interest rates soften standards, for household and corporate loans. This softening – especially for mortgages – is amplified by securitization activity, weak supervision for bank capital and too low for too long monetary policy rates. Conversely, low long-term interest rates do not soften lending standards. Finally, countries with softer lending standards before the crisis related to negative Taylor-rule residuals experienced a worse economic performance afterwards. These results help shed light on the origins of the crisis and have important policy implications.