Slow Debt, Deep Recessions

57 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020

See all articles by Joachim Jungherr

Joachim Jungherr

University of Bonn

Immo Schott

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Date Written: March 1, 2020


Business credit lags GDP growth by about one year. This contributes to high leverage during recessions and slow deleveraging. We show that a model in which firms use risky long-term debt replicates this slow adjustment of firm debt. In the model, slow-moving debt has important effects for real activity. High levels of firm debt issued during expansions are only gradually reduced during recessions. This generates an adverse feedback loop between high default rates and low investment and thereby amplifies the downturn. Sluggish deleveraging slows down the recovery. The equilibrium is constrained inefficient because firms exert an externality on the holders of previously issued debt. The constrained efficient allocation substantially reduces macroeconomic volatility.

Keywords: business cycles, firm financing, long-term debt

JEL Classification: E32, E44, G32

Suggested Citation

Jungherr, Joachim and Schott, Immo, Slow Debt, Deep Recessions (March 1, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Joachim Jungherr (Contact Author)

University of Bonn


Immo Schott

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

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