Over the last two decades, cash holdings in nonfinancial firms around the world have increased. This phenomenon is particularly concerning in Japan, where the success of Abenomics depends on a transition from stimulus-driven to self-sustaining growth based on private consumption and investment. This paper finds that Japanese nonfinancial firms have accumulated cash at the expense of investment and dividends, hampering this transition. The evidence suggests that cash accumulation is due to financial imperfections combined with rising corporate profitability and uncertainty, while corporate governance plays only a limited role. These firms have cash holdings available for investment of about 5 percent of GDP. Policy options for encouraging the use of these cash holdings include improving firms’ access to market-based financing and discouraging CEO duality.
Although a centerpiece of the reform process in Central and Eastern Europe, large-scale privatization cannot be undertaken all at once and policymakers inevitably face the choice of privatizing some sectors before others. This paper analyzes the allocative efficiency implications of alternate sequences of privatization in a reforming planned economy with two sectors—an input-producing upstream sector and a final goods-producing downstream sector. The model focuses on the link, through a market for intermediate inputs, between the two sectors. The impact of exogenous shocks to the two sectors are highlighted to show how the inflexibility of public firms in responding to shocks constrains the production response of private firms operating in perfectly as well as imperfectly competitive markets.