Capital Misallocation during the Great Recession

By Alessandro Di Nola

In this paper I evaluate the contribution of financial frictions in explaining the drop in aggregate TFP through misallocation during the Great Recession. I build a quantitative model with heterogeneous establishments; with the help of the model I compute the counterfactual drop in misallocation: by how much would aggregate TFP have decreased if the credit crunch had been absent. I find that a “real recession” would have caused a drop of only 0.16 percent, as opposed to 1.04 percent found in the data; therefore financial frictions account for a significant part of the drop in aggregate TFP. The key mechanism is the following: the increase in the cost of external finance affects negatively the reallocation of productive inputs from low to high productivity firms, by dampening the growth of small-highly productive firms.

There is a literature that studies on strong the effect of misallocation of capital is on total factor productivity and output. This has shown that some economies are far off their potential. This paper shows how such misallocation could have happened over the last business cycle, thereby highlighting a real consequence of the stronger financial frictions.


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