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The Macroeconomics of Firms' Savings

  • Viktoria Hnatkovska

    (University of British Columbia)

  • Roc Armenter

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia)

The U.S. non-financial corporate sector became a net lender vis-a-vis the rest of the economy in the early 2000s. We document this fact in the aggregate and firm-level data. We then develop a structural dynamic model with investment to study the firms' financing decisions. Debt is fiscally advantageous but subject to a no-default borrowing constraint. Equity allows the firm to suspend distributions to shareholders when the cash flow is negative. Firms accumulate financial assets for precautionary reasons, yet value equity as partial insurance against shocks. The calibrated model replicates the large fraction of firms with net savings observed in the period 2000-2007. We also find that the rise in corporate savings over the past 40 years can be mostly attributed to a fall in the cost of equity relative to debt, driven by lower dividend taxes.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2012 Meeting Papers with number 803.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed012:803
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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  1. Ivo Welch, 2004. "Capital Structure and Stock Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 106-131, February.
  2. Dittmar, Amy & Mahrt-Smith, Jan & Servaes, Henri, 2002. "Corporate Liquidity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3499, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1995. " What Do We Know about Capital Structure? Some Evidence from International Data," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1421-60, December.
  4. Tim Opler & Lee Pinkowitz & Rene Stulz & Rohan Williamson, 1997. "The Determinants and Implications of Corporate Cash Holdings," NBER Working Papers 6234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Leigh A. Riddick & Toni M. Whited, 2009. "The Corporate Propensity to Save," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(4), pages 1729-1766, 08.
  6. Francois Gourio & Jianjun Miao, 2006. "Firm Heterogeneity and the Long-Run Effects of Dividend Tax Reform," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2006-053, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  7. Thomas W. Bates & Kathleen M. Kahle & René M. Stulz, 2009. "Why Do U.S. Firms Hold So Much More Cash than They Used To?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 64(5), pages 1985-2021, October.
  8. Christopher Hennessy & Toni Whited, 2004. "Debt Dynamics," 2004 Meeting Papers 592, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Jean Tirole, 2006. "The Theory of Corporate Finance," Post-Print hal-00173191, HAL.
  10. Andrea Gamba & Alexander J. Triantis, 2007. "The Value of Financial Flexibility," Working Papers wpn07-02, Warwick Business School, Finance Group.
  11. David Thesmar & Mathias Thoenig, 2011. "Contrasting Trends in Firm Volatility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 143-80, October.
  12. Brennan, Michael J & Schwartz, Eduardo S, 1984. " Optimal Financial Policy and Firm Valuation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 593-607, July.
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