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Firm Leverage and Unemployment during the Great Recession

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  • Giroud, Xavier
  • Mueller, Holger M

Abstract

We argue that firms’ balance sheets were instrumental in the propagation of shocks during the Great Recession. Using establishment-level data, we show that firms that tightened their debt capacity in the run-up (“high-leverage firms”) exhibit a significantly larger decline in employment in response to household demand shocks than firms that freed up debt capacity (“low-leverage firms”). In fact, all of the job losses associated with falling house prices during the Great Recession are concentrated among establishments of high-leverage firms. At the county level, we find that counties with a larger fraction of establishments belonging to high-leverage firms exhibit a significantly larger decline in employment in response to household demand shocks. Thus, firms’ balance sheets also matter for aggregate employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Giroud, Xavier & Mueller, Holger M, 2015. "Firm Leverage and Unemployment during the Great Recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 10539, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:10539
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:7:p:1904-37 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Villacorta, Alonso, 2018. "Business cycles and the balance sheets of the financial and non-financial sectors," ESRB Working Paper Series 68, European Systemic Risk Board.
    3. Salem Abo-Zaid & Anastasia Zervou, 2016. "Financing of Firms, Labor Reallocation and the Distributional Role of Monetary Policy," Working Papers 20161020_001, Texas A&M University, Department of Economics.
    4. de Ridder, Maarten, 2016. "Investment in productivity and the long-run effect of financial crises on output," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86180, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Daniel Garcia, 2018. "Employment in the Great Recession : How Important Were Household Credit Supply Shocks?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2018-074, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US).
    6. Alex Clymo, 2018. "Firm Dynamics at the Zero Lower Bound," 2018 Meeting Papers 912, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Philippe Martin & Thomas Philippon, 2017. "Inspecting the Mechanism: Leverage and the Great Recession in the Eurozone," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(7), pages 1904-1937, July.
    8. Clymo, AJ, 2017. "Heterogeneous Firms, Wages, and the Effects of Financial Crises," Economics Discussion Papers 20572, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    9. Bucă, Andra & Vermeulen, Philip, 2017. "Corporate investment and bank-dependent borrowers during the recent financial crisis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 164-180.
    10. Nuri Ersahin & Rustom M. Irani, 2015. "Collateral Values and Corporate Employment," Working Papers 15-30, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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    12. Philippe Bacchetta & Kenza Benhima & Yannick Kalantzis, 2016. "Money and Capital in a Persistent Liquidity Trap," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 16.12, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
    13. Andrea Caggese & Ander Pérez Orive, 2015. "The Interaction between Household and Firm Dynamics and the Amplification of Financial Shocks," Working Papers 866, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    14. Peter N. Gal & Alexander Hijzen, 2016. "The Short-Term Impact of Product Market Reforms; A cross-country firm-level analysis," IMF Working Papers 16/116, International Monetary Fund.
    15. F. Vinas, 2016. "The real effects of universal banking on firms’ investment: Micro-evidence from 2004-2009," Débats économiques et financiers 21, Banque de France.
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    17. Kudlyak, Marianna & Sánchez, Juan M., 2017. "Revisiting the behavior of small and large firms during the 2008 financial crisis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 48-69.
    18. Ana P. Fernandes & Priscila Ferreira, 2015. "Financing Constraints and Fixed-term Employment Contracts: Evidence from the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis," NIMA Working Papers 58, Núcleo de Investigação em Microeconomia Aplicada (NIMA), Universidade do Minho.
    19. Gertler, M. & Kiyotaki, N. & Prestipino, A., 2016. "Wholesale Banking and Bank Runs in Macroeconomic Modeling of Financial Crises," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    financial accelerator; firm balance sheet channel; leverage; unemployment;

    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
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location

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