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Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Veronika Penciakova, and Nick Sander
We estimate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on business failures among small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in seventeen countries using a large representative firm-level database. We use a simple model of firm cost-minimization and measure each firm’s liquidity shortfall during and after COVID-19. Our framework allows for a rich combination of sectoral and aggregate supply, productivity, and demand shocks. We estimate a large increase in the failure rate of SMEs under COVID-19 of nearly 9 percentage points, ab-sent government support. Accommodation & Food Services, Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Education, and Other Services are among the most affected sectors. The jobs at risk due to COVID-19 related SME business failures represent 3.1 percent of private sector employment. Despite the large impact on business failures and employment, we estimate only moderate effects on the financial sector: the share of Non Performing Loans on bank balance sheets would increase by up to 11 percentage points, representing 0.3 percent of banks’ assets and resulting in a 0.75 percentage point decline in the common equity Tier-1 capital ratio. We evaluate the cost and effectiveness of various policy interventions. The fiscal cost of an intervention that narrowly targets at risk firms can be modest (0.54% of GDP). However, at a similar level of effectiveness, non-targeted subsidies can be substantially more expensive (1.82% of GDP). Our results have important implications for the severity of the COVID-19 recession, the design of policies, and the speed of the recovery.
Mr. Jiaqian Chen and Lucyna Gornicka
We apply a range of models to the U.K. data to obtain estimates of the output gap. A structural VAR with an appropriate identification strategy provides improved estimates of output gap with better real time properties and lower sensitivity to temporary shocks than the usual filtering techniques. It also produces smaller out-of-sample forecast errors for inflation. At the same time, however, our results suggest caution in basing policy decisions on output gap estimates.
Sónia Félix and Chiara Maggi
This paper studies the macroeconomic effect and underlying firm-level transmission channels of a reduction in business entry costs. We provide novel evidence on the response of firms' entry, exit, and employment decisions. To do so, we use as a natural experiment a reform in Portugal that reduced entry time and costs. Using the staggered implementation of the policy across the Portuguese municipalities, we find that the reform increased local entry and employment by, respectively, 25% and 4.8% per year in its first four years of implementation. Moreover, around 60% of the increase in employment came from incumbent firms expanding their size, with most of the rise occurring among the most productive firms. Standard models of firm dynamics, which assume a constant elasticity of substitution, are inconsistent with the expansionary and heterogeneous response across incumbent firms. We show that in a model with heterogeneous firms and variable markups the most productive firms face a lower demand elasticity and expand their employment in response to increased entry.
Francesco Manaresi and Mr. Nicola Pierri
We study the impact of bank credit on firm productivity. We exploit a matched firm-bank database covering all the credit relationships of Italian corporations, together with a natural experiment, to measure idiosyncratic supply-side shocks to credit availability and to estimate a production model augmented with financial frictions. We find that a contraction in credit supply causes a reduction of firm TFP growth and also harms IT-adoption, innovation, exporting, and adoption of superior management practices, while a credit expansion has limited impact. Quantitatively, the credit contraction between 2007 and 2009 accounts for about a quarter of observed the decline in TFP.