Bruno Albuquerque, 28 September 2021

Corporate debt has increased substantially in many parts of the world during the pandemic, raising concerns about the effects on investment in the aftermath of the COVID-19 shock. This column uses data for a large panel of US firms to investigate the implications of firm-specific debt booms for investment. It finds that debt booms lead financially constrained firms to decrease capital expenditures and intangibles, underscoring the importance of dealing with debt overhang for managing the US recovery.

Juan Jose Cortina Lorente, Tatiana Didier, Sergio Schmukler, 18 June 2021

The recent expansion in global corporate debt has occurred not only in one but in several debt markets, notably bonds and syndicated loans. This column argues that firms obtain financing in several debt markets and this more diversified corporate debt composition might help them mitigate the impact of supply-side shocks. Contrary to common beliefs, debt financing did not necessarily halt during crises because firms from advanced and emerging economies shifted their capital raising activity between bonds and syndicated loans as well as between domestic and international markets. These market switches, conducted mostly by large firms, impacted the amount of debt borrowed, the borrowing maturity, and the debt currency denomination, within firms and at the aggregate level. Overall, debt markets need to be analysed jointly to obtain a more complete picture of who is borrowing at different points in time and how overall corporate debt is evolving.

Bo Becker, Ulrich Hege, Pierre Mella-Barral, 21 March 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to lead to a steep, and potentially protracted, economic downturn. In response, many countries have implemented ambitious packages to support households and businesses. This column argues that in light of already elevated debt burdens, provisions for future debt restructuring should be made as soon as possible. These include carefully designed bailout packages, speedier in-court insolvency proceedings, and a stronger role of the state in dealing with renegotiations. Failure to plan and prepare for these cases could lead to a much slower economic recovery.

Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Luc Laeven, David Moreno, 15 January 2019

Euro area corporate sector investment collapsed post-crisis, especially in periphery countries. The column uses firm and bank data to investigate whether corporate debt accumulated during the boom years was responsible. Firms with higher leverage or firms that borrowed more decreased investment more, especially when linked to weak banks. These channels explain about 60% of the decline in aggregate corporate investment during the crisis.

Edoardo Campanella, Daniel Vernazza, 27 September 2016

China’s debt – in particular its corporate debt – is large by historical and international standards. This column argues that of greater concern is the sharp increase in recent years, and that the vulnerability is heightened by the concentration of this debt in old industries that suffer from overcapacity and weak competitiveness. The authorities appear to be only now taking steps to halt the rise in corporate debt, but as prior episodes of banking crises show, this is unlikely to be enough to avert either a prolonged period of slowing growth or a financial crisis in the medium term.

Events

CEPR Policy Research