DP14426 Crossing the Credit Channel: Credit Spreads and Firm Heterogeneity

Author(s): Ambrogio Cesa-Bianchi
Publication Date: February 2020
Keyword(s): Credit channel, credit spreads, event study, Excess Bond Premium, financial accelerator, Heterogeneity, identification, monetary policy
JEL(s): E44, F44, G15
Programme Areas: Monetary Economics and Fluctuations
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=14426

We show that credit spreads rise after a monetary policy tightening, yet spread reactions are heterogeneous across firms. Exploiting information from a unique panel of corporate bonds matched with balance sheet data for US non-financial firms, we document that firms with high leverage experience a more pronounced increase in credit spreads than firms with low leverage. A large fraction of this increase is due to a component of credit spreads that is in excess of firms' expected default -- the excess bond premium. Consistent with the spreads response, we also document that high-leverage firms experience a sharper contraction in debt and investment than low-leverage firms. Our results provide evidence that balance sheet effects are crucial for understanding the transmission mechanism of monetary policy.