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Monetary policy, business cycles and the behavior of small manufacturing firms

  • Mark Gertler
  • Simon Gilchrist

We analyze the response of small versus large manufacturing firms to monetary policy. The goal is to obtain evidence on the importance of financial propagation mechanisms for aggregate activity. We find that small firms account for a significantly disproportionate share of the manufacturing decline that follows tightening of monetary policy. They play a surprisingly prominent role in the slowdown of inventory demand. Large firms initially borrow to accumulate inventories. After a brief period, small firms quickly shed inventories. We attempt to sort financial from nonfinancial explanations with evidence on asymmetries and on balance sheet effects on inventory demand across size classes.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 93-4.

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Date of creation: 1993
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:93-4
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  1. Steven Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1987. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," NBER Working Papers 2387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kashyap, Anil K & Stein, Jeremy C & Wilcox, David W, 1993. "Monetary Policy and Credit Conditions: Evidence from the Composition of External Finance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 78-98, March.
  3. Mills, David E & Schumann, Laurence, 1985. "Industry Structure with Fluctuating Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 758-67, September.
  4. Calomiris, Charles W & Hubbard, R Glenn, 1990. "Firm Heterogeneity, Internal Finance, and 'Credit Rationing.'," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(399), pages 90-104, March.
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  6. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
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  8. Alan S. Blinder & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1983. "Money, Credit Constraints, and Economic Activity," NBER Working Papers 1084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Roger E. A. Farmer, 1985. "Implicit Contracts with Asymmetric Information and Bankruptcy: The Effect of Interest Rates on Layoffs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(3), pages 427-442.
  10. Ramey, Valerie A., 1992. "The source of fluctuations in money : Evidence from trade credit," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 171-193, November.
  11. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
  12. Christina D. Romer and David H. Romer., 1989. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," Economics Working Papers 89-107, University of California at Berkeley.
  13. Williamson, Stephen D, 1987. "Financial Intermediation, Business Failures, and Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(6), pages 1196-1216, December.
  14. Ben Bernanke, 1990. "On the Predictive Power of Interest Rates and Interest Rate Spreads," NBER Working Papers 3486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Fuerst, Timothy S., 1992. "Liquidity, loanable funds, and real activity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 3-24, February.
  16. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
  17. Ben S. Bernanke & Alan S. Blinder, 1989. "The federal funds rate and the channels of monetary transmission," Working Papers 89-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  18. Douglas Gale & Martin Hellwig, 1985. "Incentive-Compatible Debt Contracts: The One-Period Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(4), pages 647-663.
  19. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1990. "New Evidence on the Monetary Transmission Mechanism," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 21(1), pages 149-214.
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