The real effects of zombie lending in Europe

Staff working papers set out research in progress by our staff, with the aim of encouraging comments and debate.
Published on 01 March 2019

Staff Working Paper No. 783

By Belinda Tracey

Around 10% of European firms were in receipt of subsidized bank loans following the peak of the European sovereign debt crisis in 2011. To what extent did such forbearance lending contribute to the subsequent low output growth experienced by the euro area? In this paper, we address this question by developing a quantitative model of firm dynamics in which forbearance lending and firm defaults arise endogenously. The model provides a close approximation to key euro-area firm statistics over the period 2011 to 2014. We evaluate the impact of forbearance lending by considering a counterfactual scenario in which firms no longer have access to loan forbearance. Our key finding is that aggregate output, investment and total factor productivity are higher in the absence of forbearance lending than in the benchmark scenario that includes forbearance lending. This suggests that forbearance lending practices contributed to the low output growth across the euro area following the onset of the sovereign debt crisis.

PDFThe real effects of zombie lending in Europe

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