Review of Financial Studies , Vol. 32, Issue 9, pp. 3366–3411, 2019

Whatever it Takes: The Real Effects of Unconventional Monetary Policy

Launched in Summer 2012, the European Central Bank’s (ECB) Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) program indirectly recapitalized European banks through its positive impact on periphery sovereign bonds. However, the stability reestablished in the banking sector did not fully translate into economic growth. We document zombie lending by banks that remained weakly capitalized even post-OMT. In turn, firms receiving loans used these funds not to undertake real economic activity, such as employment and investment, but to build cash reserves. Creditworthy firms in industries with a high zombie firm prevalence significantly suffered from this credit misallocation, which further slowed the economic recovery.