Cash holdings and SME performance in Europe: the role of firm-specific and macroeconomic moderators
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For the first time, this paper examines the way in which cash holdings affect firm operating performance in a wide sample of European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Our results suggest that cash holdings have a positive effect on operating performance, supporting the relevance of precautionary savings motive for SMEs. Maintaining a buffer of money on hand, ready for use in any contingency, has a relevant positive effect that overcomes potential opportunistic problems. Moreover, we find that firm-specific characteristics, such as debt, size, age, growth opportunities, and ownership concentration, moderate our baseline relationship. In addition, the study also demonstrates that cash holdings have a stronger positive effect on operating performance in poorer institutional contexts. Notably, we also find that the stock of cash had a relevant role in supporting firm performance during the recent global financial crisis. Finally, we report additional analyses to corroborate our baseline results.
KeywordsCash holdings SMEs Firm operating performance Institutional context
JEL classificationG32 G33 L26
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