Implications of the COVID-19 Disruption for Corporate Leverage
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant economic disruptions among U.S. corporations. In this post, we study the preliminary impact of these disruptions on the cash flow and leverage of public U.S. corporations using public filings through April 2020. We find that the pandemic had a negative impact on cash flow while also reducing corporations’ interest expenses. However, the cash flow shock far outpaced the benefits of lower interest payments, especially in industries that were disproportionately levered. Looking ahead, we find that a sizable share of U.S. corporations have interest expense greater than cash flow, raising concerns about those corporations’ ability to endure further liquidity shocks.