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Luiza Antoun de Almeida and Mr. Thierry Tressel
This paper studies the evolution of non-financial corporate debt among publicly listed companies in major advanced economies between 2010 and 2017. Since 2010, firms have started to rely more on corporate bond markets and have used part of their debt to increase their holdings of cash. In our sample of some 5,000 firms, we find substantial differences across countries, industries, firms, and years in leverage and debt maturity, and we also identify time factors that are common drivers of capital structures. Within countries, loosening an index of financial conditions seems to be associated with lengthening debt maturity after controlling for firms’ characteristics. Across firms and countries, leveraging and lengthening debt maturity have been greater where economic growth was stronger. Tighter financial conditions are positively associated with an increase in short-term debt financing. Quantile regressions suggest that there is substantial heterogeneity among firms on how they react to macro-financial conditions: large increases in long-term debt financing and large declines in short-term debt financing tend to be driven more by better macroeconomic performance, while large increases in short-term debt financing are more strongly impacted by tighter financial conditions. Since the paper uses data up to 2017, it does not reflect developments that occurred during the coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, sensitivity analysis shows that a significant amount of corporate debt, representing more than 5 percent of GDP, could be at risk in some countries, with an adverse spillover to the financial system if financial conditions tighten or economic growth slows down. This suggests that vulnerabilities should be closely monitored and policy action taken if warranted.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
After a sharp slowdown starting in 2018, euro area growth is expected to recover over the course of 2019. However, mounting downside risks from global trade tensions, a no-deal Brexit, and market concerns about countries with high public debt emphasize the precarious nature of the forecast. Even in the absence of a major shock, there is a danger that the area could enter a prolonged period of anemic growth and inflation. Policies should focus on supporting growth while also reducing vulnerabilities.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on various aspects of corporate debt in France. The increase in debt has financed real investments, as well as acquisition of financial assets and extension of intercompany loans. The increase in debt (and its level) appears less worrisome when debt is consolidated among nonfinancial corporations. Despite the increase in the stock of debt, debt service has increased moderately. A cross-country regression analysis reveals that French publicly listed firms are on average not more indebted and have not increased their debt more than peers in other countries, after controlling for firm and sector characteristics as well as common time effects. However, the increase in debt is concentrated among large firms with sizeable leverage in a few industries, raising questions about these firms’ ability to service this debt when interest rates rise. Stress test scenarios of a large and sudden increase in interest rates suggest that corporate debt at risk could be significant at a macroeconomic level, but that cash buffers would mitigate the impact of the shock on debt service.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on long-term impact of Brexit on the European Union (EU). This paper examines consequences of Brexit on the EU27 under various post-Brexit scenarios by using two different complementary approaches. Our results, which are broadly in line with recent findings in the literature, are twofold. First, Brexit would have negative effects on the EU27 as well, given the depth and the complexity of the EU-U.K. integration. Similar to various empirical studies, it has been observed that the estimated long-term output and employment losses (in percent) for the EU27 in the study are on average lower than the corresponding losses for the UK estimated in the literature. The level of output and employment are estimated to fall at most by up to 1.5 percent and 0.7 percent in the long run in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit scenario, respectively. A “soft” Brexit outcome would lead to much lower losses.
Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
This paper revisits the issue of cross-country spillovers from fiscal consolidations using an innovative empirical methodology. We find evidence in support of fiscal spillovers in 10 euro area countries. Fiscal consolidation in one country not only reduces domestic output (direct effect), but also the output of other member countries (indirect/spillover effect). Fiscal spillovers are larger for: (i) more closely located and economically integrated countries, and (ii) fiscal shocks originating from relatively larger countries. On average, 1 percent of GDP fiscal consolidation in 10 euro area countries reduces the combined output by 0.6 percent on impact, out of which half is driven by indirect effects from fiscal spillovers. The impact peters out and becomes insignificant over the medium-term. It is largely driven by tax measures, which have a relatively stronger effect on output compared to expenditure measures. The results are robust to alternative measures of bilateral links across countries.