Sovereign Risk and Intangible Investment
Minjie Deng and
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Chang Liu: University of Rochester
Discussion Papers from Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University
This paper measures the output and TFP costs of sovereign risk incorporating its impact on firm intangible investment. Using Italian firm-level data, we show that firms reallocated from intangible assets to tangible assets during the recent sovereign debt crisis. This asset reallocation is more pronounced among small firms and high-leverage firms. We build a sovereign default model incorporating both firm tangible and intangible investment to explain the empirical findings. In our model, sovereign risk deteriorates bank balance sheets, disrupting banksâ€™ ability to finance firms. Firms with greater external financing needs are more exposed to sovereign risk. Facing tightening financial constraints, firms internalize that tangible assets can be used as collateral while intangibles cannot, thus reallocating resources towards tangible investment to offset tightening financial conditions. In a counterfactual analysis, we find that elevated sovereign risk explains 86% of the observed output losses and 72% of TFP losses during the 2011-2013 Italian sovereign debt crisis.
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