December 2016

Fewer but Better: Sudden Stops, Firm Entry, and Financial Selection

Sina T. Ates and Felipe E. Saffie


We incorporate endogenous technical change into a real business cycle small open economy framework to study the productivity costs of sudden stops. In this economy, productivity growth is determined by the entry of new firms and the expansion decisions of incumbent firms. New firms are created after the implementation of business ideas, yet the quality of ideas is heterogeneous and good ideas are scarce. Selection of the most promising ideas gives rise to a trade-off between mass (quantity) and composition (quality) in the entrant cohort. Chilean plant-level data from the sudden stop triggered by the Russian sovereign default in 1998 confirm the main mechanism of the model, as firms born during the credit shortage are fewer, but better. The quantitative analysis shows that four years after the crisis, 12.5% of the output deviation from trend is due to permanent productivity losses. Distortions in the entry margin account for 40% of the loss, and the remainder is due to distortion in the expansion decisions of incumbents.

Keywords: Selection, Sudden Stop, Endogenous Growth, Firm Dynamics


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Last Update: June 19, 2020