Riding Out the COVID-19 Storm: How Government Policies Affect SMEs in China

2020-07-24 Working Paper Series
HKUST CEP Working Paper No.2020-06

Photo by Mario Hagen on Pixabay

Based on a nationally representative survey on SMEs in China, we study the impact of government policy interventions on SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings are three-fold. First, regional and local lock-down policies decrease SMEs' incidence of reopening and delay their expected reopening in the near future, likely by reducing consumer demand. Second, stabilization policies in the form of payment deferrals and exemptions significantly improve SMEs' cash flows and further stimulate their operational recovery. This effect is more pronounced for firms with larger shares of high-skilled employees. Last, financial support policies do not appear to be effective in alleviating SMEs' cash constraints or encouraging the reopening of small businesses, potentially due to difficulties in accessing policy-oriented loans and misallocation of credit. Our findings shed new light on the policy debates on supporting SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The paper is published in China Economic Review 

Robin Kaiji Gong
Assistant Professor, Department of Economics
Robin Kaiji Gong is an Assistant Professor in Economics at the Hong Kong University of Science…
Joy Chen
Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business
Zijun Cheng
Peking University
Jinlin Li
Peking University and Harvard Kennedy School
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