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Confronting the zombies: Policies for productivity revival

Author

Listed:
  • Dan Andrews
  • Müge Adalet McGowan
  • Valentine Millot

Abstract

Policies that spur more efficient corporate restructuring can revive productivity growth by targeting three inter-related sources of labour productivity weakness: the survival of “zombie” firms (low productivity firms that would typically exit in a competitive market), capital misallocation and stalling technological diffusion. New OECD policy indicators show that there is much scope to improve the design of insolvency regimes in order to reduce the barriers to restructuring of weak firms and the personal costs associated with entrepreneurial failure. Insolvency regime reform can not only address the aforementioned sources of productivity weakness but also enhance the productivity impacts of reducing entry barriers in product markets. As the zombie firm problem may partly stem from bank forbearance, complementary reforms to insolvency regimes are essential to ensure that a more aggressive policy to resolve non-performing loans is effective. Distortions in the banking sector highlight the importance of market-based financing instruments for productivity growth with the inherent debt bias in corporate tax systems emerging as a key barrier to technological diffusion. Finally, well-designed job search and retraining policies are effective at returning workers displaced by firm exit to work, particularly in environments where barriers to firm entry are low.

Suggested Citation

  • Dan Andrews & Müge Adalet McGowan & Valentine Millot, 2017. "Confronting the zombies: Policies for productivity revival," OECD Economic Policy Papers 21, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaab:21-en
    DOI: 10.1787/f14fd801-en
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dan Andrews & Filippos Petroulakis, 2017. "Breaking the Shackles: Zombie Firms, Weak Banks and Depressed Restructuring in Europe," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1433, OECD Publishing.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Ufuk Akcigit & Harun Alp & Nicholas Bloom & William Kerr, 2018. "Innovation, Reallocation, and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(11), pages 3450-3491, November.
    3. John Armour & Douglas Cumming, 2008. "Bankruptcy Law and Entrepreneurship," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(2), pages 303-350.
    4. Dan Andrews & Alessandro Saia, 2017. "Coping with creative destruction: Reducing the costs of firm exit," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1353, OECD Publishing.
    5. Dan Andrews & Chiara Criscuolo & Peter N. Gal, 2015. "Frontier Firms, Technology Diffusion and Public Policy: Micro Evidence from OECD Countries," OECD Productivity Working Papers 2, OECD Publishing.
    6. Müge Adalet McGowan & Dan Andrews, 2018. "Design of insolvency regimes across countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1504, OECD Publishing.
    7. Wolfgang Bergthaler & Kenneth H Kang & Yan Liu & Dermot Monaghan, 2015. "Tackling Small and Medium Enterprise Problem Loans in Europe," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 15/04, International Monetary Fund.
    8. Müge Adalet McGowan & Dan Andrews & Valentine Millot & Thorsten BeckManaging Editor, 2018. "The walking dead? Zombie firms and productivity performance in OECD countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 33(96), pages 685-736.
    9. John Armour & Douglas Cumming, 2006. "The legislative road to Silicon Valley," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(4), pages 596-635, October.
    10. Jeremy Berkowitz & Michelle J. White, 2004. "Bankruptcy and Small Firms' Access to Credit," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(1), pages 69-84, Spring.
    11. Müge Adalet McGowan & Dan Andrews & Valentine Millot, 2017. "Insolvency Regimes, Technology Diffusion and Productivity Growth: Evidence from Firms in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1425, OECD Publishing.
    12. Müge Adalet McGowan & Dan Andrews & Valentine Millot, 2017. "Insolvency regimes, zombie firms and capital reallocation," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1399, OECD Publishing.
    13. Müge Adalet McGowan & Dan Andrews, 2016. "Insolvency Regimes And Productivity Growth: A Framework For Analysis," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1309, OECD Publishing.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Goldin, Ian & Koutroumpis, Pantelis & Lafond, François & Winkler, Julian, 2020. "Why is productivity slowing down?," MPRA Paper 99172, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Bart van Ark & Klaas de Vries & Abdul Erumban, 2020. "How to not miss a productivity revival once again?," National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) Discussion Papers 518, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
    3. Bank for International Settlements, 2019. "Establishing viable capital markets," CGFS Papers, Bank for International Settlements, number 62, Autumn.
    4. Amoroso, Sara & Martino, Roberto, 2020. "Regulations and technology gap in Europe: The role of firm dynamics," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    5. Alexandre, Fernando & Cruz, Sara & Portela, Miguel, 2020. "Financial Distress and the Role of Management in Micro and Small-Sized Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 13738, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Falco J. Bargagli-Dtoffi & Massimo Riccaboni & Armando Rungi, 2020. "Machine Learning for Zombie Hunting. Firms Failures and Financial Constraints," Working Papers 01/2020, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, revised Jun 2020.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    banks; capital misallocation; firm exit; insolvency; Productivity; zombie firms;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy
    • K35 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Personal Bankruptcy Law
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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