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COVID-19 and SME Failures

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Abstract

We estimate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on business failures among small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in seventeen countries using a large representative firm-level database. We use a simple model of firm cost minimization and measure each firm’s liquidity shortfall during and after COVID-19. Our framework allows for a rich combination of sectoral and aggregate supply, productivity, and demand shocks. Accommodation and food services; arts, entertainment, and recreation; education; and other services are among the sectors most affected. The SME jobs at risk due to business failures related to COVID-19 represent 3.1 percent of private sector employment. Despite the large impact on business failures and employment, we estimate only moderate effects on the financial sector: the share of nonperforming loans on bank balance sheets would increase by up to 11 percentage points, representing 0.3 percent of banks’ assets, and would result in a 0.75 percentage point decline in the common equity tier 1 capital ratio. We also evaluate the cost and effectiveness of various policy interventions. The fiscal cost of an intervention that narrowly targets at-risk firms can be modest (0.54 percent of gross domestic product). However, at a similar level of effectiveness, nontargeted subsidies can be substantially more expensive (1.82 percent of gross domestic product). Our results have important implications for the severity of the COVID-19 recession, the design of policies, and the speed of the recovery.

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  • Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Ṣebnem Kalemli-Özcan & Veronika Penciakova & Nick Sander, 2020. "COVID-19 and SME Failures," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2020-21, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:89453
    DOI: 10.29338/wp2020-21
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; business failures; liquidity; small business;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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