Thilo Kroeger, Anh Thi Ngoc Nguyen, Yuanyan Sophia Zhang, Pham Dinh Thuy, Nguyen Huy Minh, and Duong Danh Tuan
The paper uses firm-level data to assess the financial health of the Vietnamese non-financial corporate sector on the eve of pandemic. Our analysis finds that smaller domestic firms were particularly vulnerable even by regional comparison. A sensitivity analysis suggests that the COVID-19 shock will have a substantial impact on firms’ profitability, liquidity and even solvency, particularly in the hardest hit sectors that are dominated by SMEs and account for a sizeable employment share, but large firms are not immune to the crisis. Risks of default can propagate more broadly through upstream and downstream linkages to industries not directly impacted, with stresses potentially translating into an increase in corporate bankruptcies and bank fragility. Policy measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the crisis have helped alleviate liquidity pressures, but the nature of policy support may have to pivot to support the recovery.
As labor input in Japan shrinks with population aging, capital accumulation and productivity gains will drive growth over the medium-term. At the same time, a changing global landscape calls for a shift in export-oriented investment toward new markets and a new generation of products, as well as increased investment by domestically-oriented firms. What policies could be adopted to help firms adjust to the imperatives of the post-crisis global economy and boost medium-term growth? Using disaggregated data, this paper investigates the determinants of investment and R&D spending by Japanese firms. The results suggest that policies could usefully focus on four areas. First, raising the return on investment, including through reforms to the tax code. Second, decreasing uncertainty through improved risk management by firms and by bolstering the business climate. Third, improving SME access to finance, notably by encouraging venture capital investment in innovative areas and more risk-based lending. And fourth, reducing excess leverage and supporting corporate restructuring to enable new investments to flourish.