The Living Dead: Unveiling the Mysterious World of Zombie Firms in Econland

Unlocking the Mysteries of Zombie Firms: Unveiling Their Impact on the Economy and the Enigmatic Forces That Sustain Them.

The Living Dead: Unveiling the Mysterious World of Zombie Firms in Econland
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Welcome to our captivating blog, inspired by the thought-provoking research paper titled "The Rise of the Walking Dead: Zombie Firms Around the World" authored by Bruno Albuquerque and Roshan Iyer. In this summary, we delve into the intriguing realm of zombie firms and their impact on the economy of "Econland". Prepare to embark on a thrilling journey as we uncover the secrets behind these enigmatic entities that continue to haunt financial landscapes worldwide. So, grab your curiosity and let's dive into the eerie world of zombie firms!

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The Struggles of ZombCo: Outdated, Costly, and Low Profits

In the bustling country of Econland, there exists a company called ZombCo that specializes in producing widgets. While ZombCo has been in business for many years, it has recently found itself struggling to keep up with the competition. The company's products have become outdated, its costs have soared, and its profits have plummeted. However, despite these challenges, ZombCo manages to stay afloat with the help of loans from banks and support from the government.

Now, in a normal market, a company like ZombCo would eventually face bankruptcy, leading to the reallocation of its resources—such as workers and capital—to more productive firms. This process, known as creative destruction, is a vital driver of economic growth. However, due to the financial assistance received by ZombCo, this natural process of creative destruction is delayed.

As a consequence, ZombCo continues to consume resources that could be better utilized by other, more productive firms. This unfortunate situation ultimately leads to lower productivity, reduced investment, and sluggish employment growth across the entire economy. Furthermore, the banks that extend loans to ZombCo may not accurately classify these loans as nonperforming, resulting in a misallocation of credit away from firms that could contribute more to the economy.

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Identifying Zombie Firms: The ZombCo Case Study

Let's dive deeper into the world of zombie firms by examining the ZombCo. To determine if a company like ZombCo falls into the category of a zombie firm, we can apply specific criteria outlined by experts.

The first criterion is ZombCo's interest coverage ratio (ICR), which measures the extent to which its earnings cover interest expenses. If ZombCo's ICR falls below one, it indicates that the company is generating insufficient earnings to cover its interest payments. This is a clear sign of financial distress.

Next, we examine ZombCo's leverage ratio, which compares the amount of debt the company holds to its total assets. If ZombCo's leverage ratio exceeds the industry median for widget producers, it suggests that the company carries a substantial amount of debt relative to its assets. This increased debt burden can make ZombCo more susceptible to financial distress.

Lastly, we assess ZombCo's real sales growth. By analyzing the growth or decline of ZombCo's sales in real terms, we can determine the company's profitability. If ZombCo experiences negative real sales growth, it indicates declining sales and a potential lack of profitability.

To classify ZombCo as a zombie firm according to the criteria used by experts, the company must meet all three criteria—ICR below one, leverage ratio above the industry median, and negative real sales growth—for at least two consecutive years.

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Unmasking Zombie Firms: Insights from Balance Sheets

Now, let's explore the balance sheet characteristics commonly associated with zombie firms, as discussed in the research paper. A balance sheet provides a snapshot of a company's assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific point in time. Analyzing the balance sheets of zombie firms, such as ZombCo, allows us to uncover some key patterns.

First and foremost, zombie firms like ZombCo tend to have a high level of debt in relation to their assets. This is primarily because these firms rely on support from lenders or the government to stay afloat, resulting in a buildup of debt on their balance sheets.

Secondly, zombie firms exhibit low levels of investment. With their unprofitable nature, these firms often lack the resources necessary to invest in new projects or equipment.

Lastly, zombie firms typically possess minimal cash reserves and liquid assets. Struggling to generate sufficient cash flow, they frequently rely on borrowing or government assistance to meet their financial obligations.

These balance sheet characteristics provide valuable insights into the financial health of zombie firms like ZombCo.

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Reviving the Economy: Policies to Tackle Zombification

Addressing the pervasive issue of zombification requires the implementation of effective policies. Zombification refers to the phenomenon where unproductive and unviable firms, commonly known as zombie firms, are propped up by support from lenders or the government. The presence of zombie firms can have detrimental effects on the overall economy, necessitating careful policy considerations.

Considering the struggles faced by ZombCo, the widget producer in Econland, there are several policy options that the government can pursue to tackle this issue.

One viable policy option involves improving the allocation of credit throughout the economy. Achieving this could entail implementing measures to bolster the banking sector and reduce incentives for banks to lend to zombie firms. Stricter regulations on banks' capital buffers or expedited recognition of nonperforming loans could help redirect credit toward more productive firms, preventing the survival of zombie firms like ZombCo through continued lending.

Another effective policy approach involves reducing barriers to entry and exit in product markets. This strategy focuses on facilitating the entry of new firms into the market, fostering competition with existing firms. Simultaneously, it aims to ease the exit process for unviable firms such as ZombCo. By promoting creative destruction, resources can be allocated more efficiently, ensuring that the most productive firms thrive.

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Confronting Zombification: A Path to Economic Efficiency

In conclusion, the study delves into the prevalence and characteristics of zombie firms, shedding light on their implications for the broader economy. It is evident that the number of zombie firms has been rising, especially since the global financial crisis. Additionally, these zombie firms tend to concentrate in industries with low productivity growth, hampering investment, employment, and productivity growth in those sectors.

To combat the issue of zombification, the study proposes policies aimed at enhancing the allocation of credit and reducing barriers to entry and exit in product markets. By adopting these policies, Econland's government can encourage economic growth, efficiency, and the proper allocation of resources. Ultimately, this would facilitate the exit of zombie firms like ZombCo, paving the way for a more vibrant and prosperous economy.

Remember, understanding the phenomenon of zombie firms and their impact on the economy is essential for shaping robust policies that promote sustainable growth and ensure a thriving business environment in Econland.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of the blog writer and his affiliations and are for informational purposes only.

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