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The Finance Uncertainty Multiplier

Author

Listed:
  • Alfaro, Ivan

    (BI Norwegian Business School)

  • Bloom, Nicholas

    (Stanford University)

  • Lin, Xiaoji

    (Ohio State University)

Abstract

We show how real and financial frictions amplify the impact of uncertainty shocks. We start by building a model with real frictions, and show how adding financial frictions roughly doubles the negative impact of uncertainty shocks. The reason is higher uncertainty alongside financial frictions induces the standard negative real-options effects on the demand for capital and labor, but also leads firms to hoard cash against future shocks, further reducing investment and hiring. We then test the model using a panel of US firms and a novel instrumentation strategy for uncertainty exploiting differential firm exposure to exchange rate and factor price volatility. Consistent with the model we find that higher uncertainty reduces firms' investment, hiring, while increasing their cash holdings and cutting their dividend payouts, particularly for financially constrained firms. This highlights why in periods with greater financial frictions--like during the global-financial-crisis--uncertainty can be particularly damaging.

Suggested Citation

  • Alfaro, Ivan & Bloom, Nicholas & Lin, Xiaoji, 2017. "The Finance Uncertainty Multiplier," Working Paper Series 2017-30, Ohio State University, Charles A. Dice Center for Research in Financial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:ohidic:2017-30
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    JEL classification:

    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • 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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