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The Macroeconomics of Firms' Savings

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  • Viktoria Hnatkovska

    (University of British Columbia)

  • Roc Armenter

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia)

Abstract

The U.S. non-financial corporate sector became a net lender vis-a-vis the rest of the economy in the early 2000s. We document this fact in the aggregate and firm-level data. We then develop a structural dynamic model with investment to study the firms' financing decisions. Debt is fiscally advantageous but subject to a no-default borrowing constraint. Equity allows the firm to suspend distributions to shareholders when the cash flow is negative. Firms accumulate financial assets for precautionary reasons, yet value equity as partial insurance against shocks. The calibrated model replicates the large fraction of firms with net savings observed in the period 2000-2007. We also find that the rise in corporate savings over the past 40 years can be mostly attributed to a fall in the cost of equity relative to debt, driven by lower dividend taxes.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 803.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:803

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  1. Thomas W. Bates & Kathleen M. Kahle & René M. Stulz, 2009. "Why Do U.S. Firms Hold So Much More Cash than They Used To?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(5), pages 1985-2021, October.
  2. Brennan, Michael J & Schwartz, Eduardo S, 1984. " Optimal Financial Policy and Firm Valuation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 593-607, July.
  3. Dittmar, Amy & Mahrt-Smith, Jan & Servaes, Henri, 2002. "Corporate Liquidity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3499, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Francois Gourio & Jianjun Miao, 2006. "Firm Heterogeneity and the Long-Run Effects of Dividend Tax Reform," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2006-053, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  5. Ivo Welch, 2004. "Capital Structure and Stock Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 106-131, February.
  6. Christopher A. Hennessy & Toni M. Whited, 2005. "Debt Dynamics," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(3), pages 1129-1165, 06.
  7. Andrea Gamba & Alexander Triantis, 2008. "The Value of Financial Flexibility," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(5), pages 2263-2296, October.
  8. David Thesmar & Mathias Thoenig, 2011. "Contrasting Trends in Firm Volatility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 143-80, October.
  9. Leigh A. Riddick & Toni M. Whited, 2009. "The Corporate Propensity to Save," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1729-1766, 08.
  10. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1994. "What Do We Know About Capital Structure? Some Evidence from International Data," NBER Working Papers 4875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Tim Opler & Lee Pinkowitz & Rene Stulz & Rohan Williamson, 1997. "The Determinants and Implications of Corporate Cash Holdings," NBER Working Papers 6234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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