How Strongly Do 'Financing Constraints' Affect Firm Behavior?: Japanese Corporate Investment Since the Mid-1980s
Public Policy Review of the Ministry of Finance, Forthcoming
55 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2012 Last revised: 19 Nov 2012
Date Written: September 25, 2012
Research on Japanese corporate finance typically starts from the premise that banks decisively affect corporate behavior. Crucial to this premise in the Japanese context are two claims: that the strength of a firm’s relationship with a specific bank (and the funds that the bank makes available to it) determines its financing constraints, and that those constraints decisively condition the way it behaves.
Using firm-level data from the Corporate Enterprise Annual Statistics, I ask whether financing constraints significantly affected corporate investment in land and other fixed assets. I take firms in the real-estate-related industries and for comparison the manufacturing industry, and examine their investments during 1983-2009. The data suggest two conclusions. First, financial constraints did not significantly affect medium- and long-term investment in equipment. Second, most firms have not faced serious financial constraints during the decades since 1983. Many scholars argue that such constraints contributed both to the 'Bubble' during the second half of 1980s and the following recession since the 1990s, the 'Lost Two Decades'. The data, however, show no evidence that financing constraints prevented firms from investing in real estate or other tangible fixed assets.
These conclusions are consistent with those in other papers by Miwa, including Miwa [2011a]. They raise serious questions about the premises relating to Japanese financial markets that many scholars bring to their study of the Japanese economy. Investigating empirically the effectiveness of 'financing constraints', they also have important implications for current research into macro-economic fluctuations.
Keywords: financing constraint, Japanese corporate investment, firm-level data
JEL Classification: E44, G21, G31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation