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COVID-19 and SME Failures


  • Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas
  • Ṣebnem Kalemli-Özcan
  • Veronika Penciakova
  • Nick Sander


We estimate the impact of COVID-19 on business failures for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) using firm-level data in seventeen countries. Absent government support, the failure rate of SMEs would have increased by 9.1 percentage points, representing 4.6 percent of private sector employment. Resulting non-performing loans are modest, decreasing the risk-weighted common equity Tier-1 capital ratio from 14.1 to 12 percent. Government support limited to “at-risk” firms would have low fiscal costs (0.8% of GDP). Less targeted policies such as government guaranteed loans are similarly effective, but substantially more expensive, with disbursed funds representing up to 5.8% of GDP.

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  • Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Ṣebnem Kalemli-Özcan & Veronika Penciakova & Nick Sander, 2020. "COVID-19 and SME Failures," NBER Working Papers 27877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27877
    Note: EFG IFM

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Elena Carletti & Tommaso Oliviero & Marco Pagano & Loriana Pelizzon & Marti G. Subrahmanyam, 2020. "The COVID-19 Shock and Equity Shortfall: Firm-level Evidence from Italy," CSEF Working Papers 566, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 20 Jul 2020.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Philippon, 2020. "Efficient Programs to Support Businesses During and After Lockdowns," NBER Working Papers 28211, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Vujanović, Nina & Stojčić, Nebojša & Hashi, Iraj, 2021. "FDI spillovers and firm productivity during crisis: Empirical evidence from transition economies," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 45(2).
    3. Nopriadi Saputra, 2021. "Double-Sided Perspective of Business Resilience: Leading SME Rationally and Irrationally During COVID-19," GATR Journals jmmr275, Global Academy of Training and Research (GATR) Enterprise.
    4. repec:ctc:sdimse:dime21_01 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Jose M. Berrospide & Arun Gupta & Matthew P. Seay, 2021. "Un-used Bank Capital Buffers and Credit Supply Shocks at SMEs during the Pandemic," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2021-043, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

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    More about this item

    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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