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The Rise and Fall of Consumption in the 2000s
U.S. consumption has gone through steep ups and downs since the turn of the millennium, but the causes of these fluctuations are still imperfectly identified. We quantify the relative impact on consumption growth of income, unemployment, house prices, credit scores, debt, expectations, foreclosures, inequality, and refinancings for four subperiods: the ?dot-com recession? (2001-2003), the ?subprime boom? (2004-2006), the Great Recession (2007-2009), and the ?tepid recovery? (2010-2012). We document that the explanatory power of different factors varies by subperiods, implying that a ...
The Costs of Corporate Debt Overhang Following the COVID-19 Outbreak
Leading up to the COVID-19 outbreak, there were growing concerns about corporate sector indebtedness. High levels of borrowing may give rise to a “debt overhang” problem, particularly during downturns, whereby firms forego good investment opportunities because of an inability to raise additional funding. In this post, we show that firms with high levels of borrowing at the onset of the Great Recession underperformed in the following years, compared to similar—but less indebted—firms. These findings, together with early data on the revenue contractions following the COVID-19 outbreak, ...
Debt Overhang and the Retail Apocalypse
Debt overhang is central for theories of capital structure, yet credible empirical estimates of its effects remain elusive. We study the consequences and mechanisms of debt overhang using exogenous changes in the leverage of commercial retail properties. Identification comes from changes in property values occurring after pre-determined debt rollover dates. We show that debt reduces profitability by impairing property owners' response to negative shocks, reducing the business activity of their remaining retail tenants. For the median property, a 10 percentage point leverage increase causes ...
Sticky Leverage: Comment
We revisit the role of long-term nominal corporate debt for the transmission of inflation shocks in the general equilibrium model of Gomes, Jermann, and Schmid (2016, henceforth GJS). We show that inaccuracies in the model solution and calibration strategy lead GJS to a model equilibrium in which nominal long-term debt is systematically mispriced. As a result, the quantitative importance of corporate leverage in the transmission of inflation shocks to real activity in their framework is 6 times larger than what arises under the rational expectations equilibrium.