In Japan, corporate savings have risen since 2000 in line with profits. A large share of the additional savings was kept as cash holdings (i.e., cash and short-term investments) rather than used for investment. Building on a rich literature, this paper identifies two additional drivers of corporate cash holdings using financial data of public and private Japanese firms. First, a higher share of intangible capital is associated with more cash holdings. This indicates the presence of financial frictions as intangible capital is not easily collateralizable. Such financial friction could be alleviated by shifting towards cash flow-based lending that is prevalent in the United States (US). Second, corporate tax cuts are associated with more cash holdings while having no significant effect on investment. Given the significant fiscal cost, the efficiency of corporate tax cuts should be re-evaluated.
Pietro Bomprezzi, Silvia Marchesi, and Ms. Rima A Turk
This paper provides new evidence on the role of IMF programs in stimulating private sector investments. Using detailed firm-level data on tangible fixed assets and a local projection methodology, we first estimate the dynamic response of firm investments to the approval of an IMF arrangement. We find that distinguishing between GRA and PRGT financing matters for the path of firm investment and its growth, and we also document the presence of two financial channels; the degree of firms’ external financial dependence and firms’ sectoral uncertainty. Exploiting these firm-level characteristics, we employ a difference-in-differences approach to understand the mechanisms through which the approval of an IMF arrangement propagates in the private sector. We find that the more firms rely on external finance and the more they are subject to uncertainty, the less binding these financial frictions become, and hence the more firms invest following a program approval. Finally, using ownership data, we find that private investments are stimulated more for domestic firms. The presence of a private investment transmission channel could help improve our understanding of what factors could affect the success and effectiveness of IMF programs.
Lien Laureys, Mr. Roland Meeks, and Boromeus Wanengkirtyo
We reconsider the design of welfare-optimal monetary policy when financing frictions impair the supply of bank credit, and when the objectives set for monetary policy must be simple enough to be implementable and allow for effective accountability. We show that a flexible inflation targeting approach that places weight on stabilizing inflation, a measure of resource utilization, and a financial variable produces welfare benefits that are almost indistinguishable from fully-optimal Ramsey policy. The macro-financial trade-off in our estimated model of the euro area turns out to be modest, implying that the effects of financial frictions can be ameliorated at little cost in terms of inflation. A range of different financial objectives and policy preferences lead to similar conclusions.
Luis Franjo, Nathalie Pouokam, and Francesco Turino
In this paper we build a model of occupational choice with informal production and progressive income taxation. We calibrate the model to the Brazilian economy to evaluate the impact of removing financial frictions on informality. We find that financial deepening leads to a drop in the size of the informal sector (from 37 percent to 22 percent of official GDP), to an increase in measured TFP (by 4 percent), to an increase in official GDP (by 27 percent), to a decrease in tax evasion (by 17 percent) and to an increase in fiscal revenues (by 15 percent). When assessing the response of this policy at different levels of financial development, we find a non-linear relationship between the credit-to-GDP ratio on the one hand, and either the size of the informal economy, or GDP per capita on the other hand. We test these features with cross-country data and find evidence in favor of both types of non-linearity. We also investigate changes in the income tax progressitivity as an alternative policy and find it to be more effective in countries with a medium to high level of financial markets development.
Guyana’s residential real estate prices have been rising, particularly in the capital city Georgetown, following the discovery of oil in 2015. In line with the growing demand for housing, commercial banks’ housing loans have increased, prompting higher household debt. This paper presents two analyses which suggest that housing prices in Georgetown and banks’ lending to the housing sector appear to be in their early stages of growth. However, given the data limitations and caveats that underpin the analyses, the findings could also indicate early signals of possible risks. Further data collection would support surveillance and deeper studies. At the same time, enhancing prudential measures would help safeguard financial and macroeconomic stability. These include strengthening the monitoring of the housing market, bank lending practices and household debt, as well as fortifying the macroprudential framework, including with more effective toolkits for early intervention.