What lessons should we take from a difficult year—and what should our priorities be for 2021? Overcoming the harsh and uneven economic impacts of COVID-19 and returning to full employment and sustainable 2% inflation will be the Federal Reserve’s chief concerns. But success will require us to have confidence in the power of our tools. The following is adapted from a presentation by the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to the Arizona State University Economic Forecast Luncheon on December 1.
Òscar Jordà, Martin Kornejew, Moritz Schularick, and Alan M. Taylor
With business leverage at record levels, the effects of corporate debt overhang on growth and investment have become a prominent concern. In this paper, we study the effects of corporate debt overhang based on long-run cross-country data covering the near universe modern business cycles. We show that business credit booms typically do not leave a lasting imprint on the macroeconomy. Quantile local projections indicate that business credit booms do not affect the economy’s tail risks either. Yet in line with theory, we find that the economic costs of corporate debt booms rise when inefficient debt restructuring and liquidation impede the resolution of corporate financial distress and make it more likely that corporate zombies creep along.