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Leverage as a State Variable for Employment, Inventory Accumulation, andFixed Investment

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  • Charles W. Calomiris
  • Athanasios Orphanides
  • Steven A. Sharpe

Abstract

The importance of a firm's balance sheet for determining its investment and employment decisions is the central assumption of macroeconomic models of 'debt deflation' or 'debt overhang.' According to these models, firm investment decisions are influenced not only by the fundamental opportunity set of the firm, but also by the firm's existing financial condition, especially its leverage. This paper tests that assumption by examining whether the responsiveness of employment, investment, and inventory accumulation to exogenous changes in sales depend on the leverage of the firm. We find that leverage acts as an important state variable for conditioning the response of all three variables to changes in sales. We also find that this effect varies depending on the state of the economy. During recessions, higher leverage magnifies the contractionary effect of declines in sales on investment; during times of positive sales growth, higher leverage tends to dampen the expansionary effect of growth in demand. The size and significance of leverage conditioning effects are larger during recessions. These results support theoretical models of the potential importance of 'debt overhang' effects. Firms that use debt to finance expansion during times of increasing demand suffer reduced ability to maintain growth during recessions as a consequence of their higher leverage.

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  • Charles W. Calomiris & Athanasios Orphanides & Steven A. Sharpe, 1994. "Leverage as a State Variable for Employment, Inventory Accumulation, andFixed Investment," NBER Working Papers 4800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4800
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    2. Heisz, Andrew & Larochelle-Cote, Sebastien, 2004. "Corporate Financial Leverage in Canadian Manufacturing: Consequences for Employment and Inventories," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2004217e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    3. Kazuo Ogawa, 2004. "Debt, R&D Investment and Technological Progress: A Panel Study of Japanese Manufacturing Firms in the 90s," ISER Discussion Paper 0607, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    4. Vermeulen, Philip, 2002. " Business Fixed Investment: Evidence of a Financial Accelerator in Europe," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 64(3), pages 217-235, July.
    5. Konstantinos Drakos & Christos Kallandranis, 2006. "Modelling Labour Demand Dynamics beyond the Frictionless Environment," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 20(4), pages 699-720, December.
    6. Zyblock, Miles, 1997. "L'effet de levier financier des entreprises : une comparaison entre le Canada et les E.-U., 1961-1996," Direction des études analytiques : documents de recherche 1997111f, Statistics Canada, Direction des études analytiques.
    7. Calomiris, Charles W. & Love, Inessa & Martínez Pería, María Soledad, 2012. "Stock returns’ sensitivities to crisis shocks: Evidence from developed and emerging markets," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 743-765.
    8. Dr. Gregor Bäurle & Sarah M. Lein & Elizabeth Steiner, 2017. "Employment Adjustment and Financial Constraints - Evidence from Firm-level Data," Working Papers 2017-18, Swiss National Bank.
    9. Philip Vermeulen, 2002. "Business fixed investment: evidence of a financial accelerator in Europe," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 64(3), pages 213-231, July.
    10. Kazuo Ogawa, 2003. "Financial Distress and Corporate Investment: The Japanese Case in the 90s," ISER Discussion Paper 0584, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    11. Größl Ingrid & Stahlecker Peter & Wohlers Eckhardt, 2001. "An Empirical Investigation of German Firms’ Financial Structure and Ensuing Risks / Finanzierungsstruktur und Risiken im Unternehmenssektor der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Eine empirische Bestandsaufn," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 221(5-6), pages 491-529, October.
    12. Simon Gilchrist & Charles Himmelberg, 1999. "Investment: Fundamentals and Finance," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1998, volume 13, pages 223-274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Felix J. Lopez Iturriaga, 2000. "More on the credit channel of monetary policy transmission: an international comparison," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(4), pages 423-434.
    14. Tobias Miarka & Michael Troge, 2005. "Do bank-firm relationships reduce bank debt? Evidence from Japan," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(1), pages 75-92.
    15. Anna Bottasso, 1996. "Firms’ Financial Structure And Real Decisions: A Critical Survey Of The Empirical Literature," CERIS Working Paper 199623, CNR-IRCrES Research Institute on Sustainable Economic Growth - Torino (TO) ITALY - former Institute for Economic Research on Firms and Growth - Moncalieri (TO) ITALY.
    16. Kazuo Ogawa, 2003. "Financial Distress and Employment: The Japanese Case in the 90s," NBER Working Papers 9646, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Ricardo N. Bebczuk, 2000. "Financiamiento empresario, desarrollo financiero y crecimiento," Premio de Banca Central Rodrigo Gómez / Central Banking Award "Rodrigo Gómez", Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos, CEMLA, number prg2000, July-Dece.
    18. Zyblock, Miles, 1997. "Corporate Financial Leverage: A Canada - U.S. Comparison, 1961-1996," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1997111e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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    20. Charles W. Calomiris & Inessa Love & Maria Soledad Martinez Peria, 2010. "Crisis "Shock Factors" and the Cross-Section of Global Equity Returns," NBER Working Papers 16559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Egon Zakrajšek, 1997. "Retail inventories, internal finance, and aggregate fluctuations," Research Paper 9722, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    22. Efraim Benmelech & Nittai Bergman & Amit Seru, 2021. "Financing Labor [Corporate debt maturity and the real effects of the 2007 credit crisis]," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 25(5), pages 1365-1393.
    23. Ricardo N. Bebczuk, 2000. "Corporate Finance, Financial Development, and Growth," Premio de Banca Central Rodrigo Gómez / Central Banking Award "Rodrigo Gómez", Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos, CEMLA, number prg2000eng, July-Dece.

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