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Leverage as a State Variable for Employment, Inventory Accumulation, andFixed Investment

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  • Charles W. Calomiris
  • Athanasios Orphanides
  • Steven A. Sharpe

Abstract

The importance of a firm's balance sheet for determining its investment and employment decisions is the central assumption of macroeconomic models of 'debt deflation' or 'debt overhang.' According to these models, firm investment decisions are influenced not only by the fundamental opportunity set of the firm, but also by the firm's existing financial condition, especially its leverage. This paper tests that assumption by examining whether the responsiveness of employment, investment, and inventory accumulation to exogenous changes in sales depend on the leverage of the firm. We find that leverage acts as an important state variable for conditioning the response of all three variables to changes in sales. We also find that this effect varies depending on the state of the economy. During recessions, higher leverage magnifies the contractionary effect of declines in sales on investment; during times of positive sales growth, higher leverage tends to dampen the expansionary effect of growth in demand. The size and significance of leverage conditioning effects are larger during recessions. These results support theoretical models of the potential importance of 'debt overhang' effects. Firms that use debt to finance expansion during times of increasing demand suffer reduced ability to maintain growth during recessions as a consequence of their higher leverage.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4800.

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Date of creation: Jul 1994
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Publication status: published as Capie, Forrest and Geoffrey Wood (eds.) Asset Prices and the Real Economy. Macmillan, 1997.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4800

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Cited by:
  1. Efraim Benmelech & Nittai K. Bergman & Amit Seru, 2011. "Financing Labor," NBER Working Papers 17144, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Spaliara, Marina-Eliza, 2009. "Do financial factors affect the capital-labour ratio? Evidence from UK firm-level data," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1932-1947, October.
  3. Tobias Miarka & Michael Troge, 2005. "Do bank-firm relationships reduce bank debt? Evidence from Japan," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 75-92.
  4. Simon Gilchrist & Charles Himmelberg, 1998. "Investment, Fundamentals and Finance," NBER Working Papers 6652, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Anna Bottasso, 1996. "Firms’ Financial Structure And Real Decisions: A Critical Survey Of The Empirical Literature," CERIS Working Paper 199623, Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth - Moncalieri (TO).
  6. Vermeulen, Philip, 2000. "Business fixed investment: evidence of a financial accelerator in Europe," Working Paper Series 0037, European Central Bank.
  7. Zyblock, Miles, 1997. "L'effet de levier financier des entreprises : une comparaison entre le Canada et les E.-U., 1961-1996," Direction des etudes analytiques : documents de recherche 1997111f, Statistics Canada, Direction des etudes analytiques.
  8. Calomiris, Charles W. & Love, Inessa & Martínez Pería, María Soledad, 2012. "Stock returns’ sensitivities to crisis shocks: Evidence from developed and emerging markets," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 743-765.
  9. Charles W. Calomiris & Inessa Love & Maria Soledad Martinez Peria, 2010. "Crisis “Shock Factors” and the Cross-Section of Global Equity Returns," NBER Working Papers 16559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Wohlers, Eckhardt & Größl, Ingrid & Stahlecker, Peter, 1999. "Finanzierungsstruktur und Risiken im Unternehmenssektor der Bundesrepublik Deutschland : eine empirische Bestandsaufnahme," HWWA Discussion Papers 83, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA).
  11. Kazuo Ogawa, 2003. "Financial Distress and Corporate Investment: The Japanese Case in the 90s," ISER Discussion Paper 0584, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  12. Egon Zakrajsek, 1997. "Retail inventories, internal finance, and aggregate fluctuations," Research Paper 9722, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  13. Larochelle-Cote, Sebastien & Heisz, Andrew, 2004. "Corporate Financial Leverage in Canadian Manufacturing: Consequences for Employment and Inventories," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2004217e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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  15. Kazuo Ogawa, 2004. "Debt, R&D Investment and Technological Progress: A Panel Study of Japanese Manufacturing Firms in the 90s," ISER Discussion Paper 0607, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  16. Kazuo Ogawa, 2003. "Financial Distress and Employment: The Japanese Case in the 90s," NBER Working Papers 9646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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