The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper analyzes the nonfinancial corporation (NFC) sector’s financial balance sheets using data available from the OECD. In our sample of 20 advanced economies, corporate debt in percent of GDP—a frequently used indicator in the context of corporate balance sheet adjustments—has remained high since the global financial crisis, with significant differences in the level and the trend between the high-debt and low-debt groups. Looking at financial balance sheets more broadly, including net financial wealth, the NFC sector’s balance sheet conditions have improved recently, particularly reflecting accumulation of corporate cash and valuation gains on financial assets. Longer time series and more granular data for Japan, which has been experiencing a prolonged period of balance sheet adjustments, indicate that a continued strengthening of balance sheets might occur even after debt levels are reduced.