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The persistence of zombie firms in a low yield world

March 1, 2018
In the fourth part of our series on the impact of rising yields, we discuss the rising incidence of zombie firms in recent years. Bottom-up data of some 3,000 companies in the FTSE All World index show that the percentage of zombie firms has more than tripled to 2.0% of firms in 2016 from 0.6% in 1996. Such firms are defined as those with an interest coverage ratio under 1x for 2 consecutive years and a price to sales ratio under 3x. That matters because zombie firms are linked to fading business dynamism and because years of low interest rates should have led to fewer such firms, not more. There are early signs we are at a turning point, however. The numbers for 2017, with two-thirds of firms reporting, suggest that zombie firm incidence declined sharply last year. If this proves to be a real trend, it may give central banks confidence that continuing to raise rates and pull away from unconventional monetary policy will have some advantages. [more]

More documents contained in "Further research articles"

55 (49-55)
May 30, 2006
49
Brazil has made substantial progress towards greater economic stability. A combination of greater macro-stability, increased investment and openness, and gradual economic reform will lead to higher medium-term economic growth. The natural resources sector stands to benefit disproportionately from the on-going structural changes in the world economy. Strong Chinese demand will provide Brazil with a great opportunity to increase exports and growth. High-tech niches where Brazil has achieved a competitive advantage will also benefit. If domestic structural reform continues and macroeconomic stability is maintained, the financial sector will be another "winner". [more]
March 20, 2006
50
Life expectancy and health spending have been increasing for decades the world over. This life extension trend is an important engine of growth: investment in education brings higher returns; lower mortality raises population growth. However, the speed and impact of the trend cluster are still underestimated: forecasts of life expectancy and the size of the health sector are probably still too low - making the need for adjustment in the political and business community greater than many people have thought. [more]
August 1, 2005
51
Human capital is the most important factor of production in today's economies - and education is an investment that generates higher incomes in future. The growth stars of the coming years identified in our introductory study base their success on major gains in human capital. The success stories of Spain and South Korea show that political changes can have a lasting impact on human capital. [more]
March 23, 2005
52
Substantiated, long-run growth forecasts are in the limelight following the New Economy disappointments and repeated crises in the emerging markets. With the help of "Formel-G", we identify the sources of economic long-term growth and generate forecasts for 34 economies until 2020. India, Malaysia and China will post the highest GDP growth rates over 2006-20 according to our "Formel-G" approach. Strong population growth, a rapid improvement in human capital and increasing trade with other countries allow average GDP growth of more than 5% per year in these three countries. Ireland, the USA and Spain are the OECD economies expected to grow most quickly. [more]
January 12, 2005
53
The political and economic impact of EU convergence will be unambiguously positive for Turkey, as it will benefit from continued EU-supervised reforms, increased economic stability and higher foreign investment flows. The banking sector in particular stands to benefit from enhanced stability and higher economic growth, and is likely to experience increased consolidation and foreign participation. This study is to depict plausible scenarios for the Turkish economy in the medium to long term, rather than predict at what point in time accession will actually take place. [more]
August 1, 2002
Analyst:
54
The internet presents new challenges in taxation. The imposition of a turnover tax on e-commerce is hampered by the difficulties involved in identifying the consumer. It is nearly impossible to apply the destination principle, which is standard practice internationally. In the taxation of profits, international companies might obtain new scope for optimising their tax burden. Both aspects may lead to erosion of the tax base. At present, however, the volume of e-commerce is still too small to trigger serious fiscal problems. [more]
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