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Firm Leverage and Unemployment during the Great Recession

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  • Xavier Giroud
  • Holger M. Mueller

Abstract

We argue that firms’ balance sheets were instrumental in the propagation of shocks during the Great Recession. Using establishment-level data, we show that firms that tightened their debt capacity in the run-up to the Great Recession (“highleverage firms”) exhibit a significantly larger decline in employment in response to household demand shocks than firms that freed up debt capacity (“low-leverage firms”). In fact, all of the job losses associated with falling house prices during the Great Recession are concentrated among establishments of high-leverage firms. At the county level, we show that counties with a larger fraction of establishments belonging to high-leverage firms exhibit a significantly larger decline in employment in response to household demand shocks. Thus, firms’ balance sheets also matter for aggregate employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Xavier Giroud & Holger M. Mueller, 2015. "Firm Leverage and Unemployment during the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 21076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21076
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    1. Firm Balance Sheets and Unemployment in the Great Recession
      by noreply@blogger.com (Carola) in Quantitative Ease on 2015-05-05 00:39:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Philippe Martin & Thomas Philippon, 2017. "Inspecting the Mechanism: Leverage and the Great Recession in the Eurozone," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(7), pages 1904-1937, July.
    2. de Ridder, Maarten, 2016. "Investment in productivity and the long-run effect of financial crises on output," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86180, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Alex Clymo, 2018. "Firm Dynamics at the Zero Lower Bound," 2018 Meeting Papers 912, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Bucă, Andra & Vermeulen, Philip, 2017. "Corporate investment and bank-dependent borrowers during the recent financial crisis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 164-180.
    5. Shai Bernstein & Josh Lerner & Filippo Mezzanotti, 2020. "Private Equity and Portfolio Companies: Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 32(3), pages 21-42, September.
    6. Nuri Ersahin & Rustom M. Irani, 2015. "Collateral Values and Corporate Employment," Working Papers 15-30, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    7. Nuri Ersahin & Rustom M. Irani, 2015. "Collateral Values and Corporate Employment," Working Papers 15-30r, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    8. Peter Gal & Alexander Hijzen, 2016. "The short-term impact of product market reforms: A cross-country firm-level analysis," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1311, OECD Publishing.
    9. Bacchetta, Philippe & Benhima, Kenza & Kalantzis, Yannick, 2020. "Money and capital in a persistent liquidity trap," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 70-87.
    10. Andrea Caggese & Ander Pérez Orive, 2015. "The Interaction between Household and Firm Dynamics and the Amplification of Financial Shocks," Working Papers 866, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    11. Kudlyak, Marianna & Sánchez, Juan M., 2017. "Revisiting the behavior of small and large firms during the 2008 financial crisis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 48-69.
    12. Gertler, M. & Kiyotaki, N. & Prestipino, A., 2016. "Wholesale Banking and Bank Runs in Macroeconomic Modeling of Financial Crises," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 1345-1425, Elsevier.
    13. Sondershaus, Talina, 2019. "Spillovers of asset purchases within the real sector: Win-win or joy and sorrow?," IWH Discussion Papers 22/2019, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    14. Villacorta, Alonso, 2018. "Business cycles and the balance sheets of the financial and non-financial sectors," ESRB Working Paper Series 68, European Systemic Risk Board.
    15. Salem Abo‐Zaid & Anastasia Zervou, 2020. "Financing of Firms, Labor Reallocation, and the Distributional Role of Monetary Policy," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 122(2), pages 790-823, April.
    16. Daniel I. Garcia, 2018. "Employment in the Great Recession : How Important Were Household Credit Supply Shocks?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2018-074, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    17. Ryan Niladri Banerjee & Kristian S Blickle, 2016. "Housing collateral and small firm activity in Europe," BIS Working Papers 575, Bank for International Settlements.
    18. Clymo, AJ, 2017. "Heterogeneous Firms, Wages, and the Effects of Financial Crises," Economics Discussion Papers 20572, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    19. F. Vinas, 2016. "The real effects of universal banking on firms’ investment: Micro-evidence from 2004-2009," Débats économiques et financiers 21, Banque de France.
    20. Marianna Kudlyak & Juan M. Sanchez, 2016. "Revisiting Gertler-Gilchrist Evidence on the Behavior of Small and Large Firms," Working Papers 2016-5, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    21. Ana P. Fernandes & Priscila Ferreira, 2015. "Financing Constraints and Fixed-term Employment Contracts: Evidence from the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis," NIMA Working Papers 58, Núcleo de Investigação em Microeconomia Aplicada (NIMA), Universidade do Minho.
    22. Fernandes, Ana P. & Ferreira, Priscila, 2017. "Financing constraints and fixed-term employment: Evidence from the 2008-9 financial crisis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 215-238.
    23. Vinas, Frédéric, 2021. "How financial shocks transmit to the real economy? Banking business models and firm size," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 123(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location

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