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Evidence on the Role of Cash Flow for Investment

  • Gilchrist, S.
  • Himmelberg, C.P.

Recent work in macroeconomics argues that imperfection in captial markets may lead to business cycle fluctuations by propogating relatively modest shoks. Evidence for such a mechanism (also known as the "financial accelerator") consists largely of firm-level studies showing that cash flow is an important predictor of investment. But this evidence is often viewed with skepticism because cash flow is also a good indicator of investment opportunities. In this paper, we develop a framework for estimating the extent to which the predictive power of cash flow can be attributed to its role as a "fundamental" versus its role in alleviating credit frictions. For firms with access to commercial paper and bond markets, we find that the perfect capital markets model of investment can fully account for the role of cash flow. For firms with only limited access to capital markets (as indicated by lack of participation in public debt markets) however, investment appears to be ! "excessively" sensitive to fluctuations in cash flow. These results thus clarify the role of cash flow in investment equations and provide support for the existence of a financial accelerator.

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Paper provided by Columbia - Graduate School of Business in its series Papers with number 95-29.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 1995
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:colubu:95-29
Contact details of provider: Postal: U.S.A.; COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, PAINE WEBBER , New York, NY 10027 U.S.A
Phone: (212) 854-5553
Web page: http://www.gsb.columbia.edu/

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  1. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1991. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," NBER Working Papers 3892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Oliner, Stephen D & Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1992. "Sources of the Financing Hierarchy for Business Investment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(4), pages 643-54, November.
  3. Simon G. Gilchrist & Ben Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1994. "The financial accelerator and the flight to quality," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 94-18, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Michael Salinger & Lawrence H. Summers, 1983. "Tax Reform and Corporate Investment: A Microeconometric Simulation Study," NBER Chapters, in: Behavioral Simulation Methods in Tax Policy Analysis, pages 247-288 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kenneth D. West & David W. Wilcox, 1993. "Some evidence on finite sample behavior of an instrumental variables estimator of the linear quadratic inventory model," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel, 1996. "Explaining Investment Dynamics in U.S. Manufacturing: A Generalized (S,s) Approach," Documentos de Trabajo 12, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  7. Gertler, Mark, 1992. "Financial Capacity and Output Fluctuations in an Economy with Multi-period Financial Relationships," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 455-72, July.
  8. Jeffrey Fuhrer & George Moore & Scott Schuh, 1993. "Estimating the linear-quadratic inventory model: maximum likelihood versus generalized method of moments," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-11, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. Abel, Andrew B & Eberly, Janice C, 1994. "A Unified Model of Investment under Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1369-84, December.
  10. Mark Gertler & R. Glenn Hubbard & Anil Kashyap, 1990. "Interest Rate Spreads, Credit Constraints, and Investment Fluctuations: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 3495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Anil K. Kashyap & Owen A. Lamont & Jeremy C. Stein, 1993. "Credit conditions and the cyclical behavior of inventories," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 93-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  12. R. Glenn Hubbard & Anil Kashyap, 1990. "Internal net worth and the investment process: an application to U.S. agriculture," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 124, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-46, April.
  14. Charles W. Calomiris & Charles P. Himmelberg & Paul Wachtel, 1994. "Commercial Paper, Corporate Finance and the Business Cycle: A Microeconomic Perspective," Working Papers 94-17, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  15. Huntley Schaller, 1993. "Asymmetric Information, Liquidity Constraints and Canadian Investment," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(3), pages 552-74, August.
  16. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Newey, Whitney & Rosen, Harvey S, 1988. "Estimating Vector Autoregressions with Panel Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1371-95, November.
  17. repec:car:carecp:93-07 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Attanasio, Orazio P., 1995. "The intertemporal allocation of consumption: theory and evidence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 39-56, June.
  19. Steven Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1987. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," NBER Working Papers 2387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "Tobin's Marginal q and Average q: A Neoclassical Interpretation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 213-24, January.
  21. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen & Devereux, Michael & Schiantarelli, Fabio, 1992. "Investment and Tobin's Q: Evidence from company panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1-2), pages 233-257.
  22. Hoshi, Takeo & Kashyap, Anil & Scharfstein, David, 1991. "Corporate Structure, Liquidity, and Investment: Evidence from Japanese Industrial Groups," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(1), pages 33-60, February.
  23. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  24. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
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