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The persistence of zombie firms in a low yield world

March 1, 2018
In the fourth part of our series on the impact of rising yields, we discuss the rising incidence of zombie firms in recent years. Bottom-up data of some 3,000 companies in the FTSE All World index show that the percentage of zombie firms has more than tripled to 2.0% of firms in 2016 from 0.6% in 1996. Such firms are defined as those with an interest coverage ratio under 1x for 2 consecutive years and a price to sales ratio under 3x. That matters because zombie firms are linked to fading business dynamism and because years of low interest rates should have led to fewer such firms, not more. There are early signs we are at a turning point, however. The numbers for 2017, with two-thirds of firms reporting, suggest that zombie firm incidence declined sharply last year. If this proves to be a real trend, it may give central banks confidence that continuing to raise rates and pull away from unconventional monetary policy will have some advantages. [more]

More documents contained in "Further research articles"

55 (13-24)
June 26, 2015
13
Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) increased sharply in the decade up to 2013, prior to a significant decline in 2014 and Q1 2015 against the backdrop of the Russia crisis. In terms of size the market is small in an international comparison, and concentration in certain countries and sectors is large. Macro stability and adequate legal rights are important factors for market development, and a large and diversified source of demand is a key ingredient. Pension system counter-reforms in CEE may be counterproductive in this respect. [more]
April 24, 2015
14
There are good reasons to think that the revival in African growth over the last decade has been based on much more than the super cycle in commodities and demand from China. Over the next decade, however, the region’s centre of economic gravity is likely to shift towards the less resource-dependent economies in East Africa. East African countries are economically more diverse and beginning to form a relatively large and well-integrated regional market. Therefore, beyond the likely improvement in their terms of trade, they appear better-placed to deliver the structural economic transformation that will be needed to create jobs for the fast-growing working age population. [more]
April 14, 2014
17
What about agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa? Is it important to develop the sector or should efforts focus elsewhere? We argue that investments in agriculture and agribusiness are needed and that, ensuring efficient and sustainable agricultural production, they can drive economic growth and poverty reduction as well as fulfil both domestic and global demand for agricultural products. SSA offers both huge agricultural potential and fast-growing markets and there is increasing investor interest along the whole food supply chain. Challenges remain in terms of infrastructure, trade, skills and financing but there is increased commitment from governments and other partners for a sector with strong growth opportunities. [more]
November 13, 2012
18
Is there a global rush for farmland? Which countries are of interest, to whom, and what are the main drivers? Can it contribute to food security? What are consequences for host countries? We discuss in this paper risks and opportunities associated with foreign investment in farmland as well as ways forward - at a time when there is a strong case for private investment in agriculture. [more]
October 18, 2012
19
We expect the Asian frontier markets (AFMs) to be on a solid and accelerating growth path over the next five years, with real GDP growth potentially rising to 7-8% annually. All of the countries are expected to be members of the WTO by 2017. Trade at the regional and international levels is expected to deepen and drive growth in these countries. There are some risks to this constructive outlook such as natural catastrophes, political instability or even risks that could arise from rising interdependence with the global economy. Beyond these immediate risks, there are important challenges to tackle such as poverty reduction and protection of the environment and the national heritage. Improvement on these fronts will help the AFMs maintain their attraction for FDI flows. Finally, economic reform will need a more commercially-driven banking sector and financial markets, as well as a robust regulatory regime. [more]
May 2, 2012
Region:
21
Europe is adopting a new approach: economic policy coordination in the EU and the eurozone has undergone fundamental reform over the last two years. Now it is conducted via three pillars that address general economic policy, fiscal policy and macroeconomic imbalances. However, disruption is still caused by exemptions, conflicting objectives and time inconsistencies. The new rule book will only be able gain a good reputation going forward if it is applied rigorously. The pressure of the capital markets will remain a key driver of reform in this regard. [more]
May 2, 2012
Region:
22
Deposits are the most important source of funding for European banks, providing about 60% of the total. At the same time, private-sector deposits tend to be less volatile than other funding instruments. The importance of deposits is set to increase even further in the medium term because of new regulatory requirements and higher levels of risk aversion at banks. Boosting deposit volumes could enable moderate growth in bank assets and thus also an increase in lending to the private sector over the coming years. However, this would require that households hold a larger share of their savings in the form of deposits and invest a smaller proportion in insurance policies. [more]
January 20, 2012
Analyst:
23
The US car market is recovering from its deep crisis. Unit sales and production are likely to increase further in 2012 und 2013. In the medium term, previous record levels will be reached again or even exceeded. German producers should benefit from this development. Their market share in light vehicle sales will grow further. This is due to the attractive product range and the bolstering of production facilities in the US. Diesel and hybrid vehicles will expand their market shares in the US over the next few years. Growth in the diesel market in particular would benefit German companies. [more]
November 23, 2011
24
Chinese assets and liabilities have been steadily increasing from 2004 to 2010, congruent with China's economic ascendency and trade integration with the rest of the world. China today is already the world’s second largest net creditor, which, in theory, is an anomaly for a developing country. We look at possible scenarios for China and the world economy until 2015. In all of them, China will continue to accumulate FX reserves, and reserve assets will remain the largest component of China’s overall foreign assets, but the pace of accumulation is likely to slow down. The financial integration of China into the rest of the world will really take off only when portfolio investments are liberalised more boldly compared to the “stop-and-go” approach of recent years. [more]
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