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COVID-19 and SME Failures

Author

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  • Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan
  • Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas
  • Veronika Penciakova
  • Nick Sander

Abstract

We estimate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on business failures among small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in seventeen countries using a large representative firm-level database. We use a simple model of firm cost-minimization and measure each firm’s liquidity shortfall during and after COVID-19. Our framework allows for a rich combination of sectoral and aggregate supply, productivity, and demand shocks. We estimate a large increase in the failure rate of SMEs under COVID-19 of nearly 9 percentage points, ab-sent government support. Accommodation & Food Services, Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Education, and Other Services are among the most affected sectors. The jobs at risk due to COVID-19 related SME business failures represent 3.1 percent of private sector employment. Despite the large impact on business failures and employment, we estimate only moderate effects on the financial sector: the share of Non Performing Loans on bank balance sheets would increase by up to 11 percentage points, representing 0.3 percent of banks’ assets and resulting in a 0.75 percentage point decline in the common equity Tier-1 capital ratio. We evaluate the cost and effectiveness of various policy interventions. The fiscal cost of an intervention that narrowly targets at risk firms can be modest (0.54% of GDP). However, at a similar level of effectiveness, non-targeted subsidies can be substantially more expensive (1.82% of GDP). Our results have important implications for the severity of the COVID-19 recession, the design of policies, and the speed of the recovery.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Veronika Penciakova & Nick Sander, 2020. "COVID-19 and SME Failures," IMF Working Papers 2020/207, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:2020/207
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    WP; bankruptcy rate; cash flow; wage bill; employment decision; ghost firm; construction company; firm coverage; COVID-19; Supply shocks; Labor supply; Wages; Global; ; coverage ratio; liquidity condition;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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