Sources and Implications of Resource Misallocation: New Evidence from Firm-Level Marginal Products and User Costs
72 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2019
Date Written: March 18, 2019
Using micro-data on firm-specific borrowing costs and wages, we demonstrate that distortions in firms’ policies can be empirically measured using firm-level gaps between marginal revenue products and user costs (MRP-cost gaps). We estimate MRP-cost gaps for 4.7 million firm-year observations in Italy between 1997 and 2013: their variation is closely related to the extent of credit and labor market frictions. Using the MRP-cost gaps, we assess the scope of input misallocation in Italy, and its impact on aggregate output and total factor productivity (TFP). The Italian corporate sector could produce 6% to 8% more output by reallocating resources toward higher-value users. Output losses from misallocation are larger (i) during episodes of financial instability, (ii) in non-manufacturing industries, (iii) in areas with less developed institutions and (iv) among high-risk firms. We highlight an important gain/risk tradeoff: gains from reallocation might come at the expense of increasing aggregate financial fragility, because maximizing reallocation gains requires a transfer of resource from large, old, and low-risk firms toward small, young, and high-risk firms.
Keywords: total factor productivity, economic development, policy distortions
JEL Classification: O16, O40, E24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation