The Economics of Firm Productivity
Cambridge University Press,
Productivity varies widely between industries and countries, but even more so across individual firms within the same sectors. The challenge for governments is to strike the right balance between policies designed to increase overall productivity and policies designed to promote the reallocation of resources towards firms that could use them more effectively. The aim of this book is to provide the empirical evidence necessary in order to strike this policy balance. The authors do so by using a micro-aggregated dataset for 20 EU economies produced by CompNet, the Competitiveness Research Network, established some 10 years ago among major European institutions and a number of EU productivity boards, National Central Banks, National Statistical institutes, as well as academic Institutions. They call for pan-EU initiatives involving statistical offices and scholars to achieve a truly complete EU market for firm-level information on which to build solidly founded economic policies.
Firm Subsidies, Financial Intermediation, and Bank Risk
IWH Discussion Papers,
We study whether government subsidies can stimulate bank funding of marginal investment projects and the associated effect on financial stability. We do so by exploiting granular project-level information for the largest regional economic development programme in Germany since 1997: the Improvement of Regional Economic Structures programme (GRW). By combining the universe of subsidised firms to virtually all German local banks over the period 1998-2019, we test whether this large-scale transfer programme destabilised regional credit markets. Because GRW subsidies to firms are destabilised at the EU level, we can use it as an exogenous shock to identify bank responses. On average, firm subsidies do not affect bank lending, but reduce banks’ distance to default. Average effects conflate important bank-level heterogeneity though. Conditional on various bank traits, we show that well capitalised banks with more industry experience expand lending when being exposed to subsidised firms without exhibiting more risky financial profiles. Our results thus indicate that stable banks can act as an important facilitator of regional economic development policies. Against the backdrop of pervasive transfer payments to mitigate Covid-19 losses and in light of far-reaching transformation policies required to green the economy, our study bears important implications as to whether and which banks to incorporate into the design of transfer Programmes.
Monetary Policy through Exchange Rate Pegs: The Removal of the Swiss Franc‐Euro Floor and Stock Price Reactions
International Review of Finance,
The Swiss National Bank abolished the exchange rate floor versus the Euro in January 2015. Using a synthetic matching framework, we analyze the impact of this unexpected (and therefore exogenous) policy change on the stock market. The results reveal a significant level shift (decline) in asset prices following the discontinuation of the minimum exchange rate. As a novel finding in the literature, we document that the exchange‐rate elasticity of Swiss asset prices is around −0.75. Differentiating between sectors of the Swiss economy, we find that the industrial, financial and consumer goods sectors are most strongly affected by the abolition of the minimum exchange rate.
Bank Concentration and Product Market Competition
Review of Financial Studies,
This paper documents a link between bank concentration and markups in nonfinancial sectors. We exploit concentration-increasing bank mergers and variation in banks’ market shares across industries and show that higher credit concentration is associated with higher markups and that high-market-share lenders charge lower loan rates. We argue that this is due to the greater incidence of competing firms sharing common lenders that induce less aggressive product market behavior among their borrowers, thereby internalizing potential adverse effects of higher rates. Consistent with our conjecture, the effect is stronger in industries with competition in strategic substitutes where negative product market externalities are greatest.
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