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Why Do Innovative Firms Hold So Much Cash? Evidence from Changes in State R&D Tax Credits

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  • Antonio Falato
  • Jae W. Sim

Abstract

This paper uses the staggered changes of R&D tax credits across U.S. states and over time as a quasi-natural experiment to examine the impact of innovation on corporate liquidity. By generating plausibly independent variation in firms' incentive to invest in R&D, we are able to assess the empirical importance of specific theories of the link between innovation and corporate liquidity. Firms increase (decrease) their cash to asset ratios by about one and a half percentage point when their home state increases (cuts) R&D tax credits. These baseline difference-in-differences estimates hold up to a battery of validation, falsification, and robustness checks, which corroborate their internal and external validity. The treatment effect of R&D tax credits increases monotonically with several specific proxies for debt and equity financing frictions. Increases (cuts) in tax credits also lead to increases (decreases) in the ratios of cash to bank lines of credit and to book equity, and to decreases (increases) in bank debt, secured debt, and overall net indebtness, supporting debt and equity financing channels through which innovation impacts the demand for cash. We also find support for a product market competition channel, and assess repatriation and agency explanations. Overall, our analysis offers endogeneity-free evidence that innovation is a first-order driver of corporate liquidity management decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Antonio Falato & Jae W. Sim, 2014. "Why Do Innovative Firms Hold So Much Cash? Evidence from Changes in State R&D Tax Credits," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-72, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), revised 21 May 2014.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2014-72
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    1. Laurent Cavenaile & Pau Roldan, 2019. "Advertising, innovation and economic growth," Working Papers 1902, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    2. Paolo Finaldi Russo & Silvia Magri & Cristiana Rampazzi, 2016. "Innovative start-ups in Italy: their special features and the effects of the 2012 law," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 339, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    3. Pedro Mazeda Gil & Gustavo Iglésias,, 2018. "Endogenous Growth and Real Effects of Monetary Policy: R&D and Physical Capital Complementarities in a Cash-in-Advance Economy," CEF.UP Working Papers 1802, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    4. Juliane Begenau & Berardino Palazzo, 2017. "Firm Selection and Corporate Cash Holdings," NBER Working Papers 23249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Machokoto, Michael & Areneke, Geofry, 2020. "Does innovation and financial constraints affect the propensity to save in emerging markets?," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 52(C).
    6. Berardino Palazzo & Juliane Begenau, 2015. "Firm Selection and Corporate Cash Holdings," 2015 Meeting Papers 1047, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Chu, Angus C. & Cozzi, Guido & Furukawa, Yuichi & Liao, Chih-Hsing, 2017. "Inflation and economic growth in a Schumpeterian model with endogenous entry of heterogeneous firms," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 392-409.
    8. Andrea Caggese & Ander Perez, 2017. "Capital Misallocation and Secular Stagnation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2017-009, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), revised 17 Jan 2017.
    9. Ye Li, 2018. "Fragile New Economy: The Rise of Intangible Capital and Financial Instability," 2018 Meeting Papers 1189, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Huang, Chien-Yu & Yang, Yibai & Zheng, Zhijie, 2018. "Monetary Policy in a Schumpeterian Growth Model with Two R&D Sectors," MPRA Paper 87462, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Gustavo Iglésias & Pedro Mazeda Gil, 2020. "Endogenous Growth and Monetary Policy: How Do Interest-Rate Feedback Rules Shape Nominal and Real Transitional Dynamics?," Working Papers w202003, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    12. Chu, Angus C. & Cozzi, Guido & Lai, Ching-Chong & Liao, Chih-Hsing, 2015. "Inflation, R&D and growth in an open economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 360-374.
    13. Gu, Tiantian, 2017. "U.S. multinationals and cash holdings," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(2), pages 344-368.

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    Keywords

    financial economics of innovation; Determinants of corporate cash holdings;

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