When Does Cash Matter? Evidence for Private Firms
54 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2012 Last revised: 21 Jan 2014
Date Written: January 2014
Using a database of more than 180,000 private companies from 2000 to 2009, we find that the benefits of holding more cash vary substantially with a firm’s size and the conditions it faces. Cash holdings matter most for small firms: When there are negative shocks to industry or macroeconomic conditions, a small firm’s cash holdings are positively associated with changes in its sales and assets. Cash is less important for other conditions. Differences in the benefits of cash holdings between large and small firms are traced to a firm’s ability – and willingness – to increase leverage when there is a cash shortfall.
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