Financial Constraints on Investment in an Emerging Market Crisis: An Empirical Investigation of Foreign Ownership
JEL classification codes: O16, F23, E32, O12
We investigate whether capital market imperfections constrain investment during an emerging market financial crisis. Both large currency devaluations and widespread collapse of the banking sector characterize recent crises. Although a currency devaluation should increase exporters’ competitiveness and investment, a failing banking system may limit credit to these firms. Foreign-owned firms, which have greater access to overseas financing but otherwise face the same investment prospects, provide an ideal control group for determining the effect of liquidity constraints. We test for liquidity constraints in Indonesia following the 1997 East Asian financial crisis, a period when the issuance of new domestic credit declined rapidly. Exporters’ value added and employment increased after the crisis, suggesting that they profited from the devaluation and had sufficient cash flow to finance more workers. However, only exporters with foreign ownership increased their investment significantly. The failure of domestic firms to invest under profitable conditions suggests that they may have faced liquidity constraints. Investment by foreign-owned firms increased post-crisis capital stock by about 4% more than would have occurred if all the firms were domestically owned.