We study the impact of the COVID-19 recession on capital structure of publicly listed U.S. firms. Our estimates suggest leverage (Net Debt/Asset) decreased by 5.3 percentage points from the pre-shock mean of 19.6 percent, while debt maturity increased moderately. This de-leveraging effect is stronger for firms exposed to significant rollover risk, while firms whose businesses were most vulnerable to social distancing did not reduce leverage. We rationalize our evidence through a structural model of firm value that shows lower expected growth rate and higher volatility of cash flows following COVID-19 reduced optimal levels of corporate leverage. Model-implied optimal leverage indicates firms which did not de-lever became over-leveraged. We find default probability deteriorates most in large, over-leveraged firms and those that were stressed pre-COVID. Additional stress tests predict value of these firms will be less than one standard deviation away from default if cash flows decline by 20 percent.
Antonio Garcia Pascual, Mr. Ranjit Singh, and Jay Surti
The paper’s analysis underscores the importance of the ongoing Financial Stability Board-led process of identifying policy options, involving national authorities and the International Organization of Securities Commissions and other standard setters. In this context, the global nature of the investment fund business and fungibility of financial flows makes it vital to ensure consistency of global policy choices that can secure financial stability by precluding regulatory arbitrage.
Ruud A. de Mooij, Dinar Prihardini, Antje Pflugbeil, and Mr. Emil Stavrev
Luxembourg receives ample investment from multinational corporations, in part due to some attractive features in its international tax rules. Around 95 percent of these foreign investments pass through Luxembourg via companies performing holding and/or intra-group financing activities. While their contribution to Luxembourg’s economy is modest relative to their large overall balance sheets, they still generate around 3 percent of GDP in tax revenue, create almost 4500 direct jobs, and spend almost 3 percent of GDP on salaries and purchases of business services. Ongoing changes in the international corporate tax framework pose risks to these economic contributions, which this paper attempts to quantify. It also discusses options for reforms in Luxembourg’s tax system that could help offset adverse revenue and economic effects.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Oversight of the Korean financial system is broadly effective. Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) and Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) have in place regulatory and supervisory regimes in line with international standards with only a few remaining gaps. The authorities have addressed most of the recommendations of the previous FSAP and made good progress in benchmarking their frameworks with the Basel Core Principles (BCP), the Insurance Core Principles (ICP) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) Objectives and Principles for Securities Supervision (IOP).
The paper presents a framework to integrate liquidity and solvency stress tests. An empirical study based on European bond trading data finds that asset sales haircuts depend on the total amount of assets sold and general liquidity conditions in the market. To account for variations in market liquidity, the study uses Markov regime-switching models and links haircuts with market volatility and the amount of securities sold by banks. The framework is accompanied by a Matlab program and an Excel-based tool, which allow the calculations to be replicated for any type of traded security and to be used for liquidity and solvency stress testing.
W. Raphael Lam, Mr. Alfred Schipke, Yuyan Tan, and Zhibo Tan
Nonviable “zombie” firms have become a key concern in China. Using novel firm-level industrial
survey data, this paper illustrates the central role of zombies and their strong linkages with stateowned
enterprises (SOEs) in contributing to debt vulnerabilities and low productivity. As a group,
zombie firms and SOEs account for an outsized share of corporate debt, contribute to much of the
rise in debt, and face weak fundamentals. Empirical results also show that resolving these weak firms
can generate significant gains of 0.7–1.2 percentage points in long-term growth per year. These
results also shed light on the ongoing government strategy to tackle these issues by evaluating the
effects of different restructuring options. In particular, deleveraging, reducing government subsidies,
as well as operational restructuring through divestment and reducing redundancy have significant
benefits in restoring corporate performance for zombie firms.