Exchange Rate Fluctuations and Firm Leverage
We quantify the effect of exchange rate fluctuations on firm leverage. When home currency appreciates, firms who hold foreign currency debt and local currency assets observe higher net worth as appreciation lowers the value of their foreign currency debt. These firms can borrow more as a result and increase their leverage. When home currency depreciates, the reverse happens as firms have to de-lever with a negative shock to their balance sheets. Using firm-level data for leverage from 10 emerging market economies during the period from 2002 to 2015, we show that firms operating in countries whose non-financial sectors hold more of the debt in foreign currency, increase (decrease) their leverage relatively more after home currency appreciations (depreciations). Combining the leverage data with firm-level FX debt data for 4 emerging market countries, we further show that our results hold at the most granular level. Our quantitative results are asymmetric: the effects of depreciations, that are generally associated with sudden stops, are quantitatively larger than those of appreciations, which take place at a slower pace over time during capital inflow episodes. As our exercise compares depreciations and appreciations of similar size, these results are suggestive of financial frictions being more binding during depreciations than a possible relaxation of such frictions during appreciations.
We thank participants in numerous conferences and seminars. We are grateful to Jimmy Shek and Jose Maria Vidal Pastor for research assistance. This article reflects the views of the authors, and does not necessarily reflect those of the Bank for International Settlements. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Xiaoxi Liu & Ilhyock Shim, 2021. "Exchange Rate Fluctuations and Firm Leverage," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 69(1), pages 90-121, March. citation courtesy of