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Zombie firms and economic stagnation in Japan

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  • Alan Ahearne

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  • Naoki Shinada

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Abstract

It is often claimed that one contributing factor to Japan's weak economic performance over the past decade is that Japanese banks have continued to provide financial support for highly inefficient, debt-ridden companies, commonly referred to as "zombie" firms. Such poor banking practices in turn prevent more productive companies from gaining market share, strangling a potentially important source of productivity gains for the overall economy. To explore further the zombie-firm hypothesis, we use industry- and firm-level Japanese data and find evidence that productivity growth is low in industries reputed to have heavy concentrations of zombie firms. We also find that the reallocation of market share is going in the wrong direction in these industries, adding to already weak productivity performance. In addition, we find evidence that financial support from Japanese banks may have played a role in sustaining this perverse reallocation of market share.
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Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:iecepo:v:2:y:2005:i:4:p:363-381
    DOI: 10.1007/s10368-005-0041-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Takeo Hoshi & Anil Kashyap, 2000. "The Japanese Banking Crisis: Where Did It Come From and How Will It End?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1999, Volume 14, pages 129-212 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    8. Lucia Foster & John C. Haltiwanger & C. J. Krizan, 2001. "Aggregate Productivity Growth: Lessons from Microeconomic Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: New Developments in Productivity Analysis, pages 303-372 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Davis, Steven J. & Haltiwanger, John, 1999. "Gross job flows," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 41, pages 2711-2805 Elsevier.
    10. Se-Jik Kim, 2003. "Macro Effects of Corporate Restructuring in Japan," IMF Working Papers 03/203, International Monetary Fund.
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