The expression «Zombie Company » was popularised by Ricardo Cabarello Takeo Hoschi and Anil K Kashya in a 2008 article (American Economic Review on Japan « Lost Decade », the great stagnation 1990 2000.
Zombies companies are defined as ::“Firms that are unable to cover Debt servicing costs from current profits over an extended period” The period of time can vary, the BIS used 3 years in its large definition for example.
And it’s quite possible to narrow the samples by using stricter criteria like the firm must be more than 10 years old for instance This allows us to exclude start ups (like We Work or Uber for instance).
It is this BIS large definition that we shall mainly use.
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