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Inflation, liquidity and innovation

Michael Evers (), Stefan Niemann and Marc Schiffbauer

European Economic Review, 2020, vol. 128, issue C

Abstract: We present a simple model with financial frictions where inflation increases the cost faced by firms holding liquid assets to hedge risky production against expenditure shocks. Inflation tilts firms’ technology choice away from innovative activities and toward safer but return-dominated ones, and therefore reduces long-run growth. Our theory makes specific predictions about how the severity of this adverse effect depends on industry characteristics. We test these industry-specific predictions in a generalized difference-in-differences framework with novel harmonized firm-level data from 139 developing countries and a long panel of U.S. firms, overcoming small sample problems constraining previous work. We find that inflation affects the composition but not the overall quantity of investment. Moreover, consistent with our theoretical mechanism, we find that innovating firms display a stronger dependence on liquid assets, which, in turn, are negatively related to inflation.

Keywords: Inflation; Liquidity; Technology choice; Innovation; Investment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E22 E31 O16 O31 O42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2020.103506

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