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Why Did ‘Zombie’ Firms Recover in Japan?

Author

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  • Shin‐ichi Fukuda
  • Jun‐ichi Nakamura

Abstract

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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Suggested Citation

  • Shin‐ichi Fukuda & Jun‐ichi Nakamura, 2011. "Why Did ‘Zombie’ Firms Recover in Japan?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34, pages 1124-1137, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:34:y:2011:i::p:1124-1137
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Fukuda, Shin-ichi & Koibuchi, Satoshi, 2007. "The impacts of "shock therapy" on large and small clients: Experiences from two large bank failures in Japan," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 434-451, November.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Shin-Ichi Fukuda & Satoshi Koibuchi, 2006. "The Impacts Of "Shock Therapy" Under A Banking Crisis: Experiences From Three Large Bank Failures In Japan," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 57(2), pages 232-256.
    6. Alan Ahearne & Naoki Shinada, 2005. "Zombie firms and economic stagnation in Japan," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 2(4), pages 363-381, December.
    7. 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 1943-1977, December.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Kentaro Imai, 2013. "A Panel Study of Zombie SMEs in Japan: Identification, Borrowing and Investment Behavior," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 13-16-Rev., Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP), revised Sep 2014.
    2. Fukuda, Shin-ichi & Yamada, Junji, 2011. "Stock price targeting and fiscal deficit in Japan: Why did the fiscal deficit increase during Japan’s lost decades?," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 447-464.
    3. Uluc Aysun, 2016. "The credit channel is alive at the zero lower bound but how does it operate? Firm level evidence on the asymmetric effects of U.S. monetary policy," Working Papers 2016-01, University of Central Florida, Department of Economics.
    4. Uchida, Hirofumi & Miyakawa, Daisuke & Hosono, Kaoru & Ono, Arito & Uchino, Taisuke & Uesugi, Iichiro, 2015. "Financial shocks, bankruptcy, and natural selection," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 123-135.
    5. Uchida, Hirofumi & Miyakawa, Daisuke & Hosono, Kaoru & Ono, Arito & Uchino, Taisuke & Uesugi, Iichiro, 2013. "Natural Disaster and Natural Selection," Working Paper Series 25, Center for Interfirm Network, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    6. GOTO Yasuo & Scott WILBUR, 2017. "Efficiency among Japanese SMEs: In the context of the zombie firm hypothesis and firm size," Discussion papers 17123, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    7. Imai, Kentaro, 2016. "A panel study of zombie SMEs in Japan: Identification, borrowing and investment behavior," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 91-107.
    8. Kaoru Hosono & Miho Takizawa, 2012. "Do Financial Frictions Matter as a Source of Misallocation? Evidence from Japan," Discussion papers ron246, Policy Research Institute, Ministry of Finance Japan.
    9. De Veirman, Emmanuel & Levin, Andrew T., 2012. "When did firms become more different? Time-varying firm-specific volatility in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 578-601.
    10. Fabiano Schivardi & Enrico Sette & Guido Tabellini, 2017. "Credit misallocation during the European financial crisis," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1139, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    11. Mauro Caselli & Stefano Schiavo & Lionel Nesta, 2017. "Markups and markdowns," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2017-11, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    12. repec:eee:ecolet:v:160:y:2017:i:c:p:91-94 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Breton, Theodore R., 2015. "Human capital and growth in Japan: Converging to the steady state in a 1% world," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 73-89.
    14. Hyeog Ug Kwon & Futoshi Narita & Machiko Narita, 2015. "Resource Reallocation and Zombie Lending in Japan in the 1990s," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(4), pages 709-732, October.
    15. repec:eee:chieco:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:327-342 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. repec:eee:jpolmo:v:39:y:2017:i:6:p:1102-1116 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Kentaro Imai, 2013. "A Panel Study of eZombie f SMEs in Japan: Identification, Borrowing and Investment Behavior," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 13-16, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    18. YASUDA, Yukihiro, 2016. "Rollover and Capital Adequacy Requirements," Working Paper Series G-1-11, Center for Financial Research, Graduate School of Commerce and Management, Hitotsubashi University.

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