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Medium-term investment responses to activity shocks: the role of corporate debt


  • Barrela, Rodrigo
  • Lopez-Garcia, Paloma
  • Setzer, Ralph


This paper analyses the implications of corporate indebtedness for investment following large economic shocks. The empirical analysis is based on a large Orbis-iBACH firm-level data set for euro area countries from 2005 to 2018. Our results suggest that investment of high-debt firms is significantly depressed for an extended period in the aftermath of economic crises. In the four years after a negative economic shock, the cumulative loss of capital of high-debt firms is around 15% higher than that of firms with lower debt burdens. The negative impact of high debt on investment is most evident for firms in Southern and Eastern Europe and for micro firms. These findings suggest a potentially significant negative impact of increased corporate indebtedness on investment in the post-COVID-19 recovery. JEL Classification: E22, F34, G31, G32

Suggested Citation

  • Barrela, Rodrigo & Lopez-Garcia, Paloma & Setzer, Ralph, 2022. "Medium-term investment responses to activity shocks: the role of corporate debt," Working Paper Series 2751, European Central Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20222751
    Note: 2648086

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    corporate debt; COVID shock; investment; leverage; local projections;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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