Will Schumpeter get COVID-19? Testimonials from France


Issues have emerged that public assist for companies within the COVID-19 disaster has been too beneficiant, lowering the exit of unproductive companies and stopping damaging Schumpeterian creation. Based mostly on information on French firm failures in 2020, this column means that these considerations are, at this stage, unjustified. Though the variety of companies declaring chapter is effectively under its regular degree, the identical elements that predicted enterprise failures in 2019 – primarily low productiveness and low debt – have been at work in the identical approach in 2020. zombification.

The COVID-19 disaster, a worldwide shock “ like no different ”, has had disastrous penalties on a number of financial variables, together with consumption, manufacturing, employment, commerce, productiveness, enterprise confidence and shoppers, and so on. Nevertheless, an financial influence anticipated very early (e.g. Gourinchas et al. 2020) has not but materialized – particularly company bankruptcies. Certainly, the variety of chapter filings has decreased significantly. As proven in Determine 1, the variety of corporations submitting for chapter in France, for instance, is effectively under its regular degree (-36% on the finish of 2020 in comparison with 2019). Though worldwide comparisons of chapter filings should not straightforward, the conditions within the UK and Germany seem related.

Determine 1 Cumulative variety of corporations submitting for chapter, 2008-2020

To notice: On the finish of 2020, the cumulative variety of chapter filings had reached 26,779, whereas on the finish of 2019, the cumulative variety of chapter filings had reached 42,687. Supply: BODACC information as much as December 2020

The principle clarification for this sudden commentary is that governments have offered adequate liquidity and monetary assist to the companies most affected by the pandemic. However have governments gone too far? Some considerations have emerged within the public debate that these insurance policies may create ‘zombies’ by lowering the exit of unproductive corporations (The Economist 2020, Monetary Occasions 2020). In that case, it could actually have disastrous penalties for productiveness in subsequent years, because the exit of unproductive corporations contributes considerably to total productiveness progress. Foster et al. (2001) discover that getting into and exiting factories accounted for about 25% of producing productiveness progress in the USA over the interval 1977–1992 and that the influence of web entry might be bigger within the service sector. This impact comes from exiting corporations that are much less productive and / or much less progressive than current and new corporations (Syverson 2011). As well as, Adalet-McGowan et al. (2018) discover that zombie corporations cut back the expansion of extra productive corporations and can also cut back entry. This additional will increase the potential burden of low productiveness corporations that survive on total productiveness.

The worry that public insurance policies to assist companies may hurt the cleaning impact of the recession by stopping unproductive companies from exiting is subsequently legit. However the reverse worry that productive companies may go bankrupt as a result of COVID-19 disaster can also be legit. The cleaning impact is predicated on the implicit assumption that markets successfully choose the best corporations. Nevertheless, a number of research present that the likelihood of enterprise failure relies upon not solely on their productiveness but additionally on their entry to credit score. Barlevy (2002), for instance, research the results of credit score frictions on useful resource allocation throughout recessions and exhibits that credit score frictions can result in the other of the cleansing impact throughout recessions. Laeven et al. (2020) declare that “the completely different nature of the disaster implies that many companies that might usually be categorized as zombie companies are in actual fact viable companies.” Gagnon (2020) additionally argues that concern over zombies within the COVID-19 disaster is overblown.

In a latest article (Cros et al. 2021), we study whether or not there may be preliminary proof that the choice course of for company bankruptcies just isn’t solely partially frozen but additionally distorted, endangering Schumpeterian inventive destruction. We suggest a preliminary reply to this query based mostly on French information. If firm bankruptcies have been significantly decreased, we nonetheless observe a number of (greater than 60% of the “regular” degree) and we are able to subsequently analyze whether or not the determinants of the mechanism of firm destruction have been strongly distorted by the disaster. . Our outcomes, nonetheless at an early stage, are comparatively reassuring and level to hibernation somewhat than zombification:

  • The chance of a rise in bankrupt productive companies in the course of the pandemic has not materialized. Corporations submitting for chapter in 2020 have been already much less productive and / or had larger debt in 2018. A logit mannequin exhibits that the identical predominant predictors of chapter have been at work in 2020 as in 2019 – productiveness, debt and age are all the time related to the probability of chapter. As well as, the coefficients of those variables should not statistically completely different from 12 months to 12 months. Inventive destruction has been partially frozen however not distorted.
  • Not surprisingly, the discount within the variety of bankruptcies is attributable to a drop in chapter filings from much less productive corporations. Within the brief time period, nonetheless, the influence on total productiveness achieve is more likely to be small. That is solely true if the method of inventive destruction is thawed after the disaster is over.
  • The COVID-19 shock has been very heterogeneous from one sector to a different. That is very true for the industrial sector (eg eating places versus grocery shops). We measure the shock for these sectors utilizing the evolution of bank card transactions. We discover that corporations working in industries most affected by the COVID-19 shock usually tend to file for chapter. Nevertheless, the predictive energy of the COVID-19 sector shock on chapter is far lower than that of productiveness or company debt. This means that public insurance policies have compensated, within the brief time period, for a really giant a part of the sectoral nature of the COVID-19 shock.

Determine 2 illustrates these outcomes. It exhibits the contributions of various traits on the agency degree (provider debt and different money owed primarily to social contributions, financial institution debt, labor productiveness, agency dimension, agency age) and the sectoral shock of transactions by bank card on the likelihood of failure on the enterprise degree. As in 2019, debt and productiveness have the best explanatory energy in 2020. Though corporations in sectors the place bank card transaction reductions are biggest in 2020 skilled the next danger of chapter, the impact clarification of the chance of chapter on the degree of the corporate is quantitatively low.

Determine 2 Contributions of various predictors to chapter danger in 2019 and 2020

To notice: In 2019, taking into consideration the ratio of financial institution debt / company property among the many explanatory variables of the default will increase the explanatory efficiency of the econometric mannequin by 25% in comparison with a mannequin the place all the opposite variables are current, in addition to mounted results sectoral.

The legacy of the pandemic on company steadiness sheets is more likely to be vital. The discount within the variety of bankruptcies due to beneficiant liquidity measures comes at the price of a rise in company debt, particularly within the sectors most affected by the pandemic. For corporations in these sectors, a return to “ regular ” chapter processes would result in a pointy enhance in bankruptcies from 1.1% in 2019 to 1.8% in 2021 (and after 0.7% in 2020). Whereas that is necessary, a lot of the enhance comes from a chapter catching-up course of that didn’t happen in 2020. A political economic system downside for governments is that this catching-up return to regular will be interpreted as a political failure.

Our work is the primary, to our information, to estimate the predictors of enterprise failures within the COVID-19 disaster based mostly on precise information in 2020. At this level, Schumpeter doesn’t seem to have caught COVID-19 within the sense that the traditional The choice course of within the occasion of enterprise failure was not distorted in 2020. The coverage problem is subsequently to proceed to assist productive and viable companies (however probably in debt as a result of COVID-19 shock ) whereas steadily ending assist for companies that aren’t viable.

The references

Adalet-McGowan, M, D Andrews and V Millot (2018), “The Strolling Useless? Zombie corporations and productiveness efficiency in OECD international locations ”, Financial coverage 96: 685–736.

Barlevy, G (2002), “The sullying impact of recessions”, Assessment of financial research 69 (1).

Cros, M, A Epaulard and P Martin (2021), “Will Schumpeter get Covid-19?”, Dialogue Doc CEPR 15834.

Economist (2020), “Why COVID-19 will make it tougher to kill zombie corporations,” September 26.

Monetary Occasions (2020), “European Zombification Will get Even Scarier,” December 3.

Foster, L, JC Haltiwanger and CJ Krizan (2001), “Mixture Productiveness Progress: Classes from Microeconomic Proof”, in CR Hulten, ER Dean, and MJ Harper (Eds.), New developments in productiveness evaluation, College of Chicago Press.

Gagnon, J (2020), “Who’s Afraid of Zombie Companies?”, PIIE.com, October 22.

Gourinchas, PO, S Kalemli-Ozcan, V Penciakova and N Sander (2020), “COVID-19 and SME Failures”, NBER Working Paper, 27877.

Laeven, L, G Schepens and I Schnabel (2020), “Zombification in Europe in occasions of pandemic”, VoxEU.org, October 11.

Syverson, C (2011), “What determines productiveness?”, Journal of Financial Literature 49 (2): 326-65.


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