Staff Working Paper No. 935
Does corporate debt overhang affect investment over the medium term? To uncover this association, I measure debt overhang with a concept of debt accumulation or debt boom, and combine leverage with liquid assets to capture financial constraints. Using a large US firm-level panel over 1985 Q1–2019 Q1, I find that debt overhang leads financially vulnerable firms to cut permanently back on investment: a 10 percentage point increase in the three-year change in the leverage ratio is associated with lower investment growth of 5 percentage points after five years compared to the most resilient firms. I also find that vulnerable firms experience weaker intangible capital growth in the aftermath of debt booms. Finally, I find that general equilibrium effects dominate, stressing the risk that firm-specific debt booms in a subset of firms may spill over to the rest of the economy.
Corporate debt booms, financial constraints and the investment nexus
This is an online appendix to Staff Working Paper No. 935.