The Economic Effects of Private Equity Buyouts -- by Steven J. Davis, John C. Haltiwanger, Kyle Handley, Ben Lipsius, Josh Lerner, Javier Miranda
We examine thousands of U.S. private equity (PE) buyouts from 1980 to 2013, a period that saw huge swings in credit market tightness and GDP growth. Our results show striking, systematic differences in the real-side effects of PE buyouts, depending on buyout type and external conditions. Employment at target firms shrinks 13% over two years in buyouts of publicly listed firms but expands 13% in buyouts of privately held firms, both relative to contemporaneous outcomes at control firms. Labor productivity rises 8% at targets over two years post buyout (again, relative to controls), with large gains for both public-to-private and private-to-private buyouts. Target productivity gains are larger yet for deals executed amidst tight credit conditions. A post-buyout widening of credit spreads or slowdown in GDP growth lowers employment growth at targets and sharply curtails productivity gains in public-to-private and divisional buyouts. Average earnings per worker fall by 1.7% at target firms after buyouts, largely erasing a pre-buyout wage premium relative to controls. Wage effects are also heterogeneous. In these and other respects, the economic effects of private equity vary greatly by buyout type and with external conditions.
Does Costly Reversibility Matter for U.S. Public Firms? -- by Hang Bai, Erica X.N. Li, Chen Xue, Lu Zhang
Yes, most likely. The firm-level evidence on costly reversibility is even stronger than the prior evidence at the plant level. The firm-level investment rate distribution is highly skewed to the right, with a small fraction of negative investments, 5.79%, a tiny fraction of inactive investments, 1.46%, and a large fraction of positive investments, 92.75%. When estimated via simulated method of moments, the standard investment model explains the average value premium, while simultaneously matching the key properties of the investment rate distribution, including the cross-sectional volatility, skewness, and the fraction of negative investments. The combined effect of costly reversibility and operating leverage is the key driving force behind the model’s quantitative performance.