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Zombie Firms and Economic Stagnation in Japan

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  • Alan G. Ahearne
  • Naoki Shinada

Abstract

It is often claimed that one contributing factor to Japan's weak economic performance over the past decade is that Japanese banks have continued to provide financial support for highly inefficient, debt-ridden companies, commonly referred to as "zombie" firms. Such poor banking practices in turn prevent more productive companies from gaining market share, strangling a potentially important source of productivity gains for the overall economy. To explore further the zombie-firm hypothesis, we use industry- and firm-level Japanese data and find evidence that productivity growth is low in industries reputed to have heavy concentrations of zombie firms. We also find that the reallocation of market share is going in the wrong direction in these industries, adding to already weak productivity performance. In addition, we find evidence that financial support from Japanese banks may have played a role in sustaining this perverse reallocation of market share.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University in its series Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series with number d05-95.

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Date of creation: Jun 2005
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Handle: RePEc:hst:hstdps:d05-95

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Keywords: Productivity; banking system; creative destruction;

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  1. Bee Yan Aw & Xiaomin Chen & Mark J. Roberts, 1997. "Firm-level Evidence on Productivity Differentials, Turnover, and Exports in Taiwanese Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 6235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Joe Peek & Eric S. Rosengren, 2005. "Unnatural Selection: Perverse Incentives and the Misallocation of Credit in Japan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1144-1166, September.
  3. Lucia Foster & John Haltiwanger & C.J. Krizan, 1998. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons from Microeconomic Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David C. Smith, 2003. "Loans to Japanese borrowers," International Finance Discussion Papers 769, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  5. Davis, Steven J. & Haltiwanger, John, 1999. "Gross job flows," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 41, pages 2711-2805 Elsevier.
  6. Hoshi, Takeo & Kashyap, Anil K., 1990. "Evidence on q and investment for Japanese firms," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 371-400, December.
  7. Takeo Hoshi & Anil Kashyap, 2000. "The Japanese Banking Crisis: Where Did It Come From and How Will It End?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1999, Volume 14, pages 129-212 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Smith, David C., 2003. "Loans to Japanese borrowers," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 283-304, September.
  9. Ricardo J. Caballero & Takeo Hoshi & Anil K. Kashyap, 2006. "Zombie Lending and Depressed Restructuring in Japan," NBER Working Papers 12129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Se-Jik Kim, 2003. "Macro Effects of Corporate Restructuring in Japan," IMF Working Papers 03/203, International Monetary Fund.
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