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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 & Munehisa Kasuya & Kentaro Akashi, 2008. "Impaired Bank Health and Default Risk," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-564, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  2. 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.
  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. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Shin-ichi Fukuda & Satoshi Koibuchi, 2006. "The Impacts of "Shock Therapy" on Large and Small Clients:Experiences from Two Large Bank Failures in Japan," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-439, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  8. 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.
  9. Joe Peek & Eric S. Rosengren, 2003. "Unnatural Selection: Perverse Incentives and the Misallocation of Credit in Japan," NBER Working Papers 9643, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Dewatripont, M & Maskin, E, 1995. "Credit and Efficiency in Centralized and Decentralized Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 541-55, October.
  11. Boot, Arnoud W. A., 2000. "Relationship Banking: What Do We Know?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 7-25, January.
  12. 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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