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Did High Leverage Render Small Businesses Vulnerable to the COVID-19 Shock?

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Abstract

Using supervisory data on small and mid-sized nonfinancial enterprises (SMEs), we find that those SMEs with higher leverage faced tighter constraints in accessing bank credit after the COVID-19 outbreak in spring 2020. Specifically, SMEs with higher pre-COVID leverage obtained a smaller volume of new loans and had to pay a higher spread on them during the pandemic period. Consistent with an inward shift in loan supply, these effects were concentrated in loans originated by banks with below-median capital buffers. Highly levered SMEs that relied on low-capital large banks for funding before the pandemic were not able to substitute to other sources of debt financing and thus experienced more of a reduction in total debt as well as a decline in investment and employment. On the other hand, the unprecedented public support, especially the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), mitigated the adverse real effect stemming from bank credit constraints.

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  • Falk Bräuning & José Fillat & J. Christina Wang, 2022. "Did High Leverage Render Small Businesses Vulnerable to the COVID-19 Shock?," Working Papers 22-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:94908
    DOI: 10.29412/res.wp.2022.13
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandro Di Nola & Leo Kaas & Haomin Wang, 2023. "Rescue policies for small businesses in the Covid-19 recession," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 51, pages 579-603, December.
    2. Alessandro Di Nola & Leo Kaas & Haomin Wang, 2023. "Rescue policies for small businesses in the Covid-19 recession," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 51, pages 579-603, December.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    leverage; small business; credit supply; bank capital; COVID-19;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • 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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