Staff Working Paper No. 843
By Andreas Joseph, Christiane Kneer, Neeltje van Horen and Jumana Saleheen
Firms with high pre-crisis cash holdings invested significantly more than their cash-poor rivals during the global financial crisis and especially so during the recovery phase. This resulted in a persistent and growing investment gap between cash-rich and cash-poor firms. Cash especially benefited young and small firms and firms in industries where rivals became more financially constrained. The amplification effect of cash was absent in the period preceding the crisis. The ability to continue to invest allowed cash-rich firms to gain market share and accumulate more profits over the long-run. Having a liquid balance sheet when the credit cycle turns thus gives firms a competitive edge that lasts far beyond the crisis years.
This version was updated in January 2020.