Working Papers

2016-22 | December 2016

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Revisiting the Behavior of Small and Large Firms during the 2008 Financial Crisis

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Gertler and Gilchrist (1994) provide seminal evidence for the prevailing view that adverse shocks are propagated via credit constraints. Under this view, the deep recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis is often interpreted as the propagation of the initial “credit shock.” Following Gertler and Gilchrist (1994)’s methodology, we study the behavior of small and large firms during the episodes of credit disruption and extend the analysis to the 2008 financial crisis and NBER-dated recessions. We find that large firms' short-term debt and sales contracted relatively more than those of small firms during the 2008 financial crisis and during most recessions since 1969. These results, which we show are robust to changes in the business cycle dating procedure, suggest that an alternative view may be needed to understand the prolonged recession following the 2008 financial crisis.

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