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Where Did the Money Go? Impact of the ECB’s Corporate Sector Purchase Program on Eurozone Corporate Spending

By Tina Tian   

Slow corporate growth and a lack of corporate investment has plagued European markets for the past decade. As a response, the ECB began the Corporate Sector Purchase Program (CSPP) in 2016 to provide liquidity to corporate debt markets through bond purchases. Four years after the start of the program, this paper assesses its impact by looking at how companies spent this money on a micro level. In particular, it looks at the impact of long-term debt on five expenditures (fixed assets and R&D, cash balances, short-term debt, cash to shareholders, and share buybacks). We test these hypothesized expenditures based on financial statement panel data from a selection of European firms whose bonds were purchased by the ECB. The results show an increase in financial expenditures including cash balances and short-term debt and a decrease in productive investment expenditures such as fixed assets and R&D. This indicates a lack of efficacy of the corporate bond purchase program as excess liquidity provided by the ECB went towards eurozone companies refinancing existing debt rather than investing in growth ventures.

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Advisors: Professor Connel Fullenkamp, Professor Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: G3, O16, E58

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