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Zombie firms and the take-up of support measures during Covid-19


  • Marco Pelosi

    (Bank of Italy)

  • Giacomo Rodano

    (Bank of Italy)

  • Enrico Sette

    (Bank of Italy)


In this paper, we analyse the incidence of zombie firms, how they have been affected by the pandemic, and their take-up of economic support measures. While balance sheet data for 2020 are not available yet, we find that in 2019, they represented 3 to 5 per cent of all corporations. In 2020, they were more likely to experience liquidity deficits and spikes in their default probability, as well as to exit the market. Importantly, we also find that they were less likely to take up the economic support measures. Overall, as fewer firms exited the market in 2020 than in 2019, the pandemic is likely to have boosted the zombie share. However, compared with other firms, zombies have exited the market more and had a lower take-up of support measures. Thus, the Government’s policies are unlikely to have amplified such a trend.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Pelosi & Giacomo Rodano & Enrico Sette, 2021. "Zombie firms and the take-up of support measures during Covid-19," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 650, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:opques:qef_650_21

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Viral V Acharya & Tim Eisert & Christian Eufinger & Christian Hirsch, 2019. "Whatever It Takes: The Real Effects of Unconventional Monetary Policy," The Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 32(9), pages 3366-3411.
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    4. Dan Andrews & Filippos Petroulakis, 2017. "Breaking the Shackles: Zombie Firms, Weak Banks and Depressed Restructuring in Europe," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1433, OECD Publishing.
    5. Olivier De Jonghe & Hans Dewachter & Klaas Mulier & Steven Ongena & Glenn Schepens, 2020. "Some Borrowers Are More Equal than Others: Bank Funding Shocks and Credit Reallocation [A theory of systemic risk and design of prudential bank regulation]," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 24(1), pages 1-43.
    6. Giacomo Rodano & Enrico Sette, 2019. "Zombie firms in Italy: a critical assessment," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 483, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. Giovanni Favara & Camelia Minoiu & Ander Pérez-Orive, 2021. "U.S. Zombie Firms: How Many and How Consequential?," FEDS Notes 2021-07-30-2, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Martin, Philippe & Cros, Mathieu & Epaulard, Anne, 2021. "Will Schumpeter Catch Covid-19?," CEPR Discussion Papers 15834, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Columba & Tommaso Orlando & Francesco Palazzo & Fabio Parlapiano, 2022. "The features of equity capital increases by Italian corporates," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 709, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    2. Álvarez, Laura & García-Posada, Miguel & Mayordomo, Sergio, 2023. "Distressed firms, zombie firms and zombie lending: A taxonomy," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 149(C).
    3. Lily Davies & Mark Kattenberg & Benedikt Vogt, 2023. "Predicting Firm Exits with Machine Learning: Implications for Selection into COVID-19 Support and Productivity Growth," CPB Discussion Paper 444, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.

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    More about this item


    zombie firms; Covid-19.;

    JEL classification:

    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm

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