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Why Did ‘Zombie’ Firms Recover in Japan?

  • Shin‐ichi Fukuda
  • Jun‐ichi Nakamura

The Japanese economy experienced prolonged recessions during the 1990s. Previous studies suggest that evergreen lending to troubled firms known as "zombie firms" distorted market discipline in terms of stabilizing the Japanese economy and caused significant delays in the economy's recovery. However, the eventual bankruptcy of zombies was rare. In fact, a majority of the "zombie" firms substantially recovered during the first half of the 2000s. The purpose of this paper is to investigate why zombie firms recovered in Japan. We first extend the method of Caballero, Hoshi, and Kashyap (2008) and identify zombies from among the listed firms. Subsequently, we investigate the nature of corporate restructuring that was effective in reviving zombie firms. Our multinomial logistic regressions suggest that reducing the employee strength of zombie firms and selling its fixed assets were beneficial in facilitating their recovery. However, corporate restructuring without accounting transparency or by discouraging incentives for managers was ineffective. In addition, corporate restructuring lacked effectiveness in the absence of favorable macroeconomic environment as well as substantial external financial support.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal The World Economy.

Volume (Year): 34 (2011)
Issue (Month): (07)
Pages: 1124-1137

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Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:34:y:2011:i::p:1124-1137
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  1. Shin-ichi Fukuda & Satoshi Koibuchi, 2005. "The Impacts of "Shock Therapy" under a Banking Crisis : Experiences from Three Large Bank Failures in Japan," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-351, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  2. Sekine, Toshitaka & Kobayashi, Keiichiro & Saita, Yumi, 2003. "Forbearance Lending: The Case of Japanese Firms," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 21(2), pages 69-92, August.
  3. Hanazaki, Masaharu & Horiuchi, Akiyoshi, 2003. "A review of Japan's bank crisis from the governance perspective," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 305-325, July.
  4. Berglof Erik & Roland Gerard, 1995. "Bank Restructuring and Soft Budget Constraints in Financial Transition," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 354-375, December.
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  6. Fukuda, Shin-ichi & Kasuya, Munehisa & Akashi, Kentaro, 2009. "Impaired bank health and default risk," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 145-162, April.
  7. 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.
  8. Alan G. Ahearne & Naoki Shinada, 2005. "Zombie Firms and Economic Stagnation in Japan," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d05-95, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  9. 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.
  10. Ricardo J. Caballero & Takeo Hoshi & Anil K. Kashyap, 2008. "Zombie Lending and Depressed Restructuring in Japan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1943-77, December.
  11. M. Dewatripont & E. Maskin, 1995. "Credit and Efficiency in Centralized and Decentralized Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 541-555.
  12. Mathias Dewatripont & Eric Maskin, 1995. "Credit and efficiency in centralized and decentralized economies," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9603, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  13. Boot, Arnoud W. A., 2000. "Relationship Banking: What Do We Know?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 7-25, January.
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