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U.S. Zombie Firms: How Many and How Consequential?
The unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy support in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore concerns that cheap credit could fuel the financing of zombie firms—that is, firms that are unable to generate enough profits to cover debt-servicing costs and that need to borrow to stay alive. Many observers have recently commented that zombie firms may crowd out lending to productive firms and erode the strength of the U.S. economy.
The Transmission of Monetary Policy through Bank Lending : The Floating Rate Channel
We describe and test a mechanism through which outstanding bank loans affect the firm balance sheet channel of monetary policy transmission. Unlike other debt, most bank loans have floating rates mechanically tied to monetary policy rates. Hence, monetary policy-induced changes to floating rates affect the liquidity, balance sheet strength, and investment of financially constrained firms that use bank debt. We show that firms---especially financially constrained firms---with more unhedged bank debt display stronger sensitivity of their stock price, cash holdings, sales, inventory, and fixed ...
Capital Misallocation and Secular Stagnation
The widespread emergence of intangible technologies in recent decades may have significantly hurt output growth--even when these technologies replaced considerably less productive tangible technologies--because of structurally low interest rates caused by demographic forces. This insight is obtained in a model in which intangible capital cannot attract external finance, firms are credit constrained, and there is substantial dispersion in productivity. In a tangibles-intense economy with highly leveraged firms, low rates enable more borrowing and faster debt repayment, reduce misallocation, ...
Financial innovation, macroeconomic stability and systemic crises
The Information in Interest Coverage Ratios of the US Nonfinancial Corporate Sector
Using firm-level data, we find significant variability in interest coverage ratios--across firms and economic sectors and across time--that suggests that critical ICR levels depend on firm- or sector-specific economic conditions.
The Potential Increase in Corporate Debt Interest Rate Payments from Changes in the Federal Funds Rate
This note studies the response of interest expenses of U.S. nonfinancial corporations to an increase in interest rates.
Interest Coverage Ratios: Assessing Vulnerabilities in Nonfinancial Corporate Credit
This note examines whether the ability of nonfinancial corporations to meet their interest expenses out of earnings is a vulnerability for financial stability under current economic conditions. We measure this ability using the interest coverage ratio (ICR)—the ratio of earnings before interest and taxes relative to interest expenses—and project this ratio under different scenarios.
Is bank debt special for the transmission of monetary policy? Evidence from the stock market
We combine existing balance sheet and stock market data with two new datasets to study whether, how much, and why bank lending to firms matters for the transmission of monetary policy. The first new dataset enables us to quantify the bank dependence of firms precisely, as the ratio of bank debt to total assets. We show that a two standard deviation increase in the bank dependence of a firm makes its stock price about 25 percent more responsive to monetary policy shocks. We explore the channels through which this effect occurs, and find that the stock prices of bank-dependent firms that borrow ...