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Implications of the COVID-19 Disruption for Corporate Leverage

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  • Sungmin An
  • Anna Kovner
  • Stephan Luck

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant economic disruptions among U.S. corporations. In this post, we study the preliminary impact of these disruptions on the cash flow and leverage of public U.S. corporations using public filings through April 2020. We find that the pandemic had a negative impact on cash flow while also reducing corporations’ interest expenses. However, the cash flow shock far outpaced the benefits of lower interest payments, especially in industries that were disproportionately levered. Looking ahead, we find that a sizable share of U.S. corporations have interest expense greater than cash flow, raising concerns about the ability of those corporations to endure further liquidity shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Sungmin An & Anna Kovner & Stephan Luck, 2020. "Implications of the COVID-19 Disruption for Corporate Leverage," Liberty Street Economics 20200810, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednls:88528
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; bank leverage; corporate debt;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage

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