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The Employment Effects of Credit Market Disruptions: Firm-level Evidence from the 2008-9 Financial Crisis

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  • Gabriel Chodorow-Reich

Abstract

This article investigates the effect of bank lending frictions on employment outcomes. I construct a new data set that combines information on banking relationships and employment at 2,000 nonfinancial firms during the 2008-9 crisis. The article first verifies empirically the importance of banking relationships, which imply a cost to borrowers who switch lenders. I then use the dispersion in lender health following the Lehman crisis as a source of exogenous variation in the availability of credit to borrowers. I find that credit matters. Firms that had precrisis relationships with less healthy lenders had a lower likelihood of obtaining a loan following the Lehman bankruptcy, paid a higher interest rate if they did borrow, and reduced employment by more compared to precrisis clients of healthier lenders. Consistent with frictions deriving from asymmetric information, the effects vary by firm type. Lender health has an economically and statistically significant effect on employment at small and medium firms, but the data cannot reject the hypothesis of no effect at the largest or most transparent firms. Abstracting from general equilibrium effects, I find that the withdrawal of credit accounts for between one-third and one-half of the employment decline at small and medium firms in the sample in the year following the Lehman bankruptcy. JEL Codes: E24, E44, G20. Copyright 2014, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriel Chodorow-Reich, 2014. "The Employment Effects of Credit Market Disruptions: Firm-level Evidence from the 2008-9 Financial Crisis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 1-59.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:129:y:2014:i:1:p:1-59
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/qje/qjt031
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    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General

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