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Zombie Lending and Depressed Restructuring in Japan


Ricardo J. Caballero


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Takeo Hoshi


University of California at San Diego; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Anil K. Kashyap


University of Chicago, Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

April 2006

NBER Working Paper No. w12129

Abstract:     
In this paper, we propose a bank-based explanation for the decade-long Japanese slowdown following the asset price collapse in the early 1990s. We start with the well-known observation that most large Japanese banks were only able to comply with capital standards because regulators were lax in their inspections. To facilitate this forbearance the banks often engaged in sham loan restructurings that kept credit flowing to otherwise insolvent borrowers (that we call zombies). Thus, the normal competitive outcome whereby the zombies would shed workers and lose market share was thwarted. Our model highlights the restructuring implications of the zombie problem. The counterpart of the congestion created by the zombies is a reduction of the profits for healthy firms, which discourages their entry and investment. In this context, even solvent banks do not find good lending opportunities. We confirm our story's key predictions that zombie-dominated industries exhibit more depressed job creation and destruction, and lower productivity. We present firm-level regressions showing that the increase in zombies depressed the investment and employment growth of non-zombies and widened the productivity gap between zombies and non-zombies.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 72

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Date posted: May 16, 2006  

Suggested Citation

Caballero, Ricardo J. and Hoshi, Takeo and Kashyap, Anil K., Zombie Lending and Depressed Restructuring in Japan (April 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12129. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=896203

Contact Information

Ricardo J. Caballero (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )
50 Memorial Drive
E52-252A
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-0489 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Takeo Hoshi
University of California at San Diego ( email )
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States
619-534-5018 (Phone)
619-534-3939 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Anil K. Kashyap
University of Chicago, Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-7260 (Phone)
773 702-0458 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
773-702-7260 (Phone)
773-702-0458 (Fax)
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )
230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States
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