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Financial Market Development and the Rise in Firm Level Uncertainty


  • Thesmar, David
  • Thoenig, Mathias


This Paper posits that firms can choose the degree of risk inherent to their technological/ marketing/organizational strategies. Financial market development, by improving risk sharing between owners of listed firms, increases the willingness of these firms to take risky bets. This in turn increases firm level uncertainty in sales, employment and profits. In equilibrium, this effect diffuses to non-listed firms, a group not directly involved in risk sharing. The effect is larger when competition increases, and when labour market institutions are flexible. This Paper thus provides a finance-based, instead of technology-based, rationale for the increase of firm level uncertainty that has recently been documented in France and the US. We then use the French stock market reforms of the late 1980s to test our predictions, using listed firms as the treated group and privately held firms as a control group. Consistent with our model’s testable predictions, we find that (1) for listed firms, firm sales volatility has increased markedly after the reforms; and (2) this effect is stronger where product market competition is the strongest. Such evidence holds in front of various robustness checks. In particular, we seek to control for the exposure to international competition and the adoption of new technologies, two forces that may have affected our treatment and control groups differently.

Suggested Citation

  • Thesmar, David & Thoenig, Mathias, 2004. "Financial Market Development and the Rise in Firm Level Uncertainty," CEPR Discussion Papers 4761, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4761

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Ellul & Marco Pagano & Fabiano Schivardi, 2014. "Employment and Wage Insurance within Firms - Worldwide Evidence," EIEF Working Papers Series 1402, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Sep 2017.
    2. claudio Michelacci & Fabiano Schivardi, 2008. "Does Idiosyncratic Business Risk Matter?," EIEF Working Papers Series 0813, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Jul 2008.
    3. García-Vega, María & Guariglia, Alessandra & Spaliara, Marina-Eliza, 2012. "Volatility, financial constraints, and trade," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 57-76.
    4. Buch, Claudia M. & Lipponer, Alexander, 2010. "Volatile multinationals? Evidence from the labor demand of German firms," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 345-353, April.
    5. Comin, Diego & Mulani, Sunil, 2009. "A theory of growth and volatility at the aggregate and firm level," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1023-1042, November.
    6. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00881198 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Pengfei Wang & Yi Wen, 2009. "Financial development and economic volatility: a unified explanation," Working Papers 2009-022, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    8. Marco Pagano & Giovanni Pica, 2012. "Finance and employment," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 27(69), pages 5-55, January.
    9. Coeurdacier, Nicolas, 2009. "Do trade costs in goods market lead to home bias in equities?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 86-100, February.
    10. Che, Natasha Xingyuan, 2009. "The great dissolution: organization capital and diverging volatility puzzle," MPRA Paper 13701, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Shalini Mitra, 2012. "Does Financial Development Cause Higher Firm Volatility and Lower Aggregate Volatility?," Working papers 2012-07, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    12. Thibault Darcillon, 2016. "Do Interactions between Finance and Labour Market Institutions Affect the Income Distribution?," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 30(3), pages 235-257, September.
    13. Amable, Bruno & Demmou, Lilas & Gatti, Donatella, 2007. "Employment Performance and Institutions: New Answers to an Old Question," IZA Discussion Papers 2731, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Buch, Claudia M. & Döpke, Jörg & Stahn, Kerstin, 2008. "Great moderation at the firm level? Unconditional versus conditional output volatility," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2008,13, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    15. J. Christina Wang, 2006. "Financial innovations, idiosyncratic risk, and the joint evolution of real and financial volatilities," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    16. Strotmann, Harald & Döpke, Jörg & Buch, Claudia M., 2006. "Does trade openness increase firm-level volatility?," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2006,40, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    17. Andrea Bassanini & Luca Nunziata & Danielle Venn, 2009. "Job protection legislation and productivity growth in OECD countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 24, pages 349-402, April.
    18. Diego A. Comin & Thomas Philippon, 2006. "The Rise in Firm-Level Volatility: Causes and Consequences," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 167-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    financial development; firm-level uncertainty; risk sharing;

    JEL classification:

    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs

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