European Firms, Panic Borrowing and Credit Lines Drawdowns: What Did We Learn from the COVID-19 Shock?
48 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2022
We show that European firms, at the peak of the COVID-19 shock in 2020:Q2, went into a “panic borrowing” status and drew down ¿87bn in a very short period. We show that firms with less stringent solvency and liquidity constraints drew down their credit lines and accumulated cash. Our study exploits the implications of the social distancing policies to corporate operations across Europe. It proposes a novel empirical framework that identifies panic borrowing while accounting for the endogeneity between credit line drawdowns and an underlying borrowing ability during the COVID-19 shock. We use COVID-19 infection data and proxies for social distancing policies in Europe to study if the increase in risk following the COVID-19 shock can explain the panic borrowing while accounting for possible endogenous credit lines drawdowns. Finally, we show that European corporate drawdowns during the pandemic crisis increased drawdowns, on average, by 3.35 percentage points in response to an unexpected one percentage point fall in their cash flows but only when firms’ earnings are negative. This result is driven by the lockdown policies introduced in Europe.
Keywords: Corporate credit lines, cash holding, investment, default risk
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