Mr. Gee Hee Hong, Arata Ito, Yukiko Umeno Saito, and Anh Thi Ngoc Nguyen
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a serious threat to the survival of Japanese firms, highlighting the importance of understanding how and why firms exit. In this paper, we use a rich firm-level dataset of Japanese firms to document how firm exit patterns have evolved between 2007 and 2017. Firm exit patterns have been heavily influenced by Japan’s demographic trends, as a majority of exits in recent years were voluntary exits of firms (business closures) owned by CEOs aged 65 years or older without business successors. In contrast to this increase in voluntary exits, other “traditional” firm exits (such as bankruptcies), have declined. These findings underscore the importance of addressing business transition issues in a rapidly aging society.
This paper documents and assesses the risk stemming from rising corporate indebtedness in China using a firm-level dataset of listed firms. It finds that while leverage on average is not high, there is a fat tail of highly leveraged firms accounting for a significant share of total corporate debt, mainly concentrated in the real estate and construction sector and state-owned enterprises in general. The real estate and construction firms tend to face lower borrowing costs and could withstand a modest increase of interest rate shocks despite their high leverage. The corporate sector is however vulnerable to a significant slowdown in the real estate and construction sector. Our sensitivity analysis suggests that the share of debt that would be in financial distress would rise to about a quarter of total listed firm debt in the event of a 20 percent decline in real estate and construction profits.
Based on a survey that we designed and that covers a stratified random sample of 12,400 firms in 120 cities in China with firm-level accounting information for 2002-2004, this paper examines the presence of systematic distortions in capital allocation that result in uneven marginal returns to capital across firm ownership, regions, and sectors. It provides a systematic comparison of investment efficiency among wholly and partially state-owned, wholly and partially foreignowned, and domestic privately owned firms, conditioning on their sector, location, and size characteristics. It finds that even after a quarter-of-century of reforms, state-owned firms still have significantly lower returns to capital, on average, than domestic private or foreign-owned firms. Similarly, certain regions and sectors have consistently lower returns to capital than other regions and sectors. By our calculation, if China succeeds in allocating its capital more efficiently, it could reduce its investment intensity by 5 percent of GDP without sacrificing its economic growth (and hence deliver a greater improvement to its citizens' living standard).
Ajit Singh, Mr. Rudolph Matthias, and Mr. Jack D. Glen
This large empirical study of corporate profitability in emerging markets during the 1980s and 1990s measures the intensity of competition. Data on corporate rates of return, profit margins, and output-capital ratios reveal that the recent liberalization has been associated with reduced corporate profit margins and improved capital utilization efficiency. The paper also analyzes persistency in corporate profitability and finds that competitiveness was no less intense in developing countries than in advanced countries. Although the paper is not directly concerned with the Asian crisis, it provides evidence on important structural hypotheses about the crisis.