Small and Large Firms Over the Business Cycle

ROM seminar by Neil Mehrotra, Brown University
Start date

Monday, 14 Oct 2019, 12:00

End date

Monday, 14 Oct 2019, 13:00

Room
C1-2
Building
Theil Building

Drawing on a new, confidential Census Bureau dataset of financial statements of a representative sample of 80000 manufacturing firms from 1977 and 2014, we provide new evidence on the link between size, cyclicality, and financial frictions.

First, we only find evidence of lower cyclicality among the very largest firms (the top 1% by size). Second, due to high and rising concentration of sales and investment, the lower sensitivity of the top 1% firms dominates the behavior of aggregate fluctuations. Third, we show that this differential sensitivity does not appear to be driven by financial frictions. The higher sensitivity of the bottom 99% does not disappear after controlling for measures of financial strength, is not statistically significant after identified monetary policy shocks, and does not appear in debt financing flows.

Evidence from 3-digit industries suggests a non-financial explanation: the largest 1% of firms are less sensitive due to a more diversified customer base.