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Safety monitoring, capital structure, and "financial responsibility"

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  • Feess, Eberhard
  • Hege, Ulrich

Abstract

Firms will exert too little preventive care if damages are likely to exceed their equity. This is particularly important for environmental and product liability and motivates the current discussion about extending liability to creditors. We propose a model where the firm can be financed by equity, bank debt or publicly traded debt. There is a moral hazard problem about the choice of care that can be mitigated through stochastic monitoring of its safety standards. We show that the optimal allocation can always be implemented by a liability regime of "financial responsibility", that is mandatory liability coverage that can be fulfilled either by an insurer or by a lender. We find that the first best can only be achieved if the defendants are fully liable. This result is in contrast to related models which find liability below the level of harm optimal, and we show that the difference is due to the inclusion of safety monitoring. Financial responsibility is strictly superior to lender liability alone or strict liability without extended liability, but their relative ranking may vary.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Review of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 23 (2003)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 323-339

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Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:23:y:2003:i:3:p:323-339

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/irle

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References

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  1. Innes, Robert, 1999. "Optimal liability with stochastic harms, judgement-proof injurers, and asymmetric information1," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 181-203, June.
  2. Boyd, James & Ingberman, Daniel E, 1997. "The Search for Deep Pockets: Is "Extended Liability" Expensive Liability?," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 232-58, April.
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  5. Eberhard Feess, 1999. "Lender Liability for Environmental Harm: An Argument Against Negligence Based Rules," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 231-250, November.
  6. Chemmanur, Thomas J & Fulghieri, Paolo, 1994. "Reputation, Renegotiation, and the Choice between Bank Loans and Publicly Traded Debt," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 7(3), pages 475-506.
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  13. Rajan, Raghuram G, 1992. " Insiders and Outsiders: The Choice between Informed and Arm's-Length Debt," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1367-400, September.
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  16. Eberhard Feess & Ulrich Hege, 2000. "Environmental Harm and Financial Responsibility*," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 25(2), pages 220-234, April.
  17. Heyes, Anthony G, 1996. "Lender Penalty for Environmental Damage and the Equilibrium Cost of Capital," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 311-23, May.
  18. Ringleb, Al H & Wiggins, Steven N, 1990. "Liability and Large-Scale, Long-term Hazards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 574-95, June.
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  20. Boyd, James, 1996. "Banking on "Green Money:" Are Environmental Financial Responsibility Rules Fulfilling Their Promise?," Discussion Papers dp-96-26, Resources For the Future.
  21. Bolton, Patrick & Scharfstein, David S, 1996. "Optimal Debt Structure and the Number of Creditors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 1-25, February.
  22. Feess, E. & Hege, U., 2000. "Environmental harm and financial responsibility," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-85388, Tilburg University.
  23. T. Randolph Beard, 1990. "Bankruptcy and Care Choice," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(4), pages 626-634, Winter.
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  29. Wiggins, Steven N & Ringleb, Al H, 1992. "Adverse Selection and Long-Term Hazards: The Choice between Contract and Mandatory Liability Rules," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 189-215, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Helm, Carsten, 2005. "How Liable should an Exporter be? The Case of Trade in Hazardous Goods," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 36799, Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute of Economics (VWL).
  2. Henry van Egteren & R. Smith & Dean McAfee, 2004. "Harmonization of Environmental Regulations When Firms are Judgment Proof," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 139-164, March.
  3. Juan José Ganuza & Fernando Gómez, 2003. "Optimal negligence rule under limited liability," Economics Working Papers 759, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2004.
  4. Eberhard Feess & Gerd Muehlheusser & Ansgar Wohlschlegel, 2009. "Environmental liability under uncertain causation," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 133-148, October.
  5. Marcel Boyer & Donatella Porrini, 2007. "Sharing Liability Between Banks and Firms: The Case of Industrial Safety Risk," CIRANO Working Papers 2007s-04, CIRANO.
  6. Hutchinson, Emma & van 't Veld, Klaas, 2005. "Extended liability for environmental accidents: what you see is what you get," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 157-173, January.
  7. Coestier, B. & Gozlan, Estelle & Marette, Stephan, 2002. "Prevention, Limited Liability and Market Structure," 2002 International Congress, August 28-31, 2002, Zaragoza, Spain 8531, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  8. Bidénam Kambia-Chopin, 2010. "Environmental risks, the judgment-proof problem and financial responsibility," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 77-87, October.

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