Against Hollow Firms: Repurposing the Corporation for a More Resilient Economy

Andrew Baker, Colin Haslam, Adam Leaver*, Richard Murphy, Leonard Seabrooke, Saila Stausholm, Duncan Wigan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportReportResearch


The Covid-19 pandemic is revealing latent weaknesses at large, well-established companies who may now require state support. This report argues that those weaknesses pre-date the current pandemic and are a consequence of excesses in the non-financial corporate sector during the post-2008 economy. Those excesses include: i) historically high levels of dividends and buybacks which, in many cases, exceeded earnings and hollowed out reserves ii) the growth of low-prime debt, which risks being downgraded to junk in the current crisis and iii) a build-up of ‘fair valued’ assets, often intangible assets such as goodwill, which are vulnerable to write downs that could push firms into negative shareholder equity.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSheffield
PublisherUniversity of Sheffield
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesReport. Centre for Research on Accounting and Finance in Context (CRAFiC)


  • Financialization
  • COVID-19
  • Dividends
  • Share buybacks
  • Creative accounting
  • Corporate collapse

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