The Impact of 0% Interest Rates on Zombie Companies: Exploring the Phenomenon

Welcome to our blog post where we delve into the fascinating realm of the impact of 0% interest rates on zombie companies. In recent years, the rise of these undead businesses has become a pressing concern in the corporate world, heavily influenced by the prevailing interest rate environment. Join us as we explore this intriguing phenomenon, dissect its effects on struggling enterprises, and uncover the implications for the broader economy.

The Impact of 0% Interest Rates on Zombie Companies: Exploring the Phenomenon


In recent years, zombie companies have become a growing concern for the US economy. These are companies that are operational but not making enough profits to cover their debt obligations. The term “zombie company” originated during Japan’s economic crisis in the 1990s but has gained prominence in the US, especially with the impact of 0% interest rates. This article will delve into the effects of low-interest rates on zombie companies and their implications for economic growth and innovation.

Zombie companies are operational but not making profits

Zombie companies are characterized by their inability to generate sufficient profits to maintain their financial obligations. These companies typically survive by obtaining loans from banks or other financial institutions, keeping them afloat despite their lack of profitability. The prolonged existence of such companies raises concerns about their impact on economic stability.

Zombie companies are increasing in the US economy

Over the years, zombie companies have increasingly become a problem in the US economy. This trend has been fueled by several factors, including low-interest rates, government bailouts, and the forbearance shown by banks. With easy access to cheap money, these companies have managed to survive despite their unprofitability.

Zombie companies are kept alive by forbearance from banks

One of the primary reasons for the rise of zombie companies is the leniency of banks in granting loan forbearance. Banks often opt to prolong the life of struggling companies by extending loans or renegotiating terms to avoid write-offs. While this approach may provide short-term relief, it can hinder the necessary restructuring and revitalization that would promote sustainable growth.

Government bailouts in 2008 contributed to the rise of zombie companies

During the 2008 financial crisis, the US government implemented large-scale bailouts to stabilize the economy. While these measures were necessary to prevent a complete collapse, they inadvertently contributed to the rise of zombie companies. Companies that should have been allowed to fail were saved through government intervention, perpetuating their unproductive operations.

Zombie companies hinder economic growth and innovation

The presence of zombie companies in the economy hampers economic growth and stifles innovation. These companies absorb valuable resources that could be better utilized by more productive and innovative businesses. The survival of zombie companies also discourages investment in new ventures, as capital tends to flow towards established but unproductive entities.

Furthermore, zombie companies limit the entry of new players into the market. As they continue to operate despite their inefficiency, they create barriers to competition and impede the growth of dynamic and innovative industries.

Some well-known zombie companies

Several well-known companies have succumbed to zombie-like characteristics in recent years. Sears, JC Penney, Toys R Us, iHeart Media, and General Electric are examples of companies that have struggled to turn a profit but have managed to stay operational through various means. Their continued existence raises questions about the effectiveness of current economic policies in addressing the zombie company phenomenon.

A Deutsche Bank study found that over 25% of US companies were zombies in 2020

A study conducted by Deutsche Bank in 2020 revealed a concerning statistic: over 25% of US companies could be classified as zombies. This high percentage indicates the substantial presence of unproductive businesses in the economy. The study also pointed out that the prolonged low-interest-rate environment played a significant role in the proliferation of these companies.

Low interest rates and cheap money contributed to the rise of zombie companies

The availability of low-interest rates and cheap money has played a crucial role in the rise of zombie companies. With borrowing costs at historic lows, even unprofitable companies can access the necessary funds to continue operating. This easy access to credit can artificially sustain businesses that would otherwise fail, creating an economic environment that favors unproductive entities.


The impact of 0% interest rates on zombie companies cannot be underestimated. The prolonged existence of these unprofitable entities hinders economic growth, innovation, and competition. While low-interest rates may appear beneficial in the short term, they create an environment that supports the survival of businesses that should naturally exit the market. Addressing the zombie company phenomenon requires a comprehensive reassessment of economic policies, including measures that encourage restructuring and revitalization rather than prolonging unproductive operations.


  1. What are zombie companies?
    Zombie companies are operational businesses that are unable to generate sufficient profits to cover their debt obligations.

  2. What factors contribute to the rise of zombie companies?
    Low-interest rates, leniency from banks, and past government bailouts are some of the factors that have contributed to the increase in zombie companies.

  3. How do zombie companies hinder economic growth?
    Zombie companies absorb valuable resources and discourage investment in more productive ventures, limiting economic growth and innovation.

  4. Which well-known companies have become zombie companies?
    Sears, JC Penney, Toys R Us, iHeart Media, and General Electric are examples of well-known companies that have exhibited zombie-like characteristics.

  5. What percentage of US companies are classified as zombies?
    According to a Deutsche Bank study in 2020, over 25% of US companies can be classified as zombies.

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