Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Do Better Institutions Mitigate Agency Problems? Evidence from Corporate Finance Choices


Author Info

  • Mariassunta Giannetti

    (Bank of Italy, Research Department)


This paper examines how firm characteristics, the legal system and financial development affect corporate finance decisions using a novel and unexplored data set containing balance sheet information for listed and unlisted companies. Contrary to the previous literature, by using data on unlisted companies of small dimension, the paper shows that institutions play an important role in determining the extent of agency problems in corporate finance decisions. In particular, it emerges that in countries with good accounting standards and above-average creditor protection, it is easier for firms investing in intangible assets to obtain loans. Therefore, institutions that are capable of effectively protecting lenders are good substitutes for collateral. The protection of creditor rights is also important for guaranteeing access to long-term debt for firms operating in sectors with highly volatile returns. In contrast, if the law does not guarantee creditor rights sufficiently, lenders prefer to issue short-term debt because they can use the threat not to renew the loan to limit entrepreneurs' opportunistic behavior. In this case, inefficiencies due to the excessive liquidation of projects in temporary difficulty may arise. Ceteris paribus, firms are more leveraged in countries where the stock market is less developed. Moreover, unlisted firms appear systematically more indebted even after controlling for firm characteristics, such as profitability, size and the ability to provide collateral. Finally, institutions, which favor creditor rights and ensure stricter enforcement, are associated with higher leverage, but also with greater availability of long-term debt.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) with number 376.

as in new window
Date of creation: Jul 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_376_00

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Via Nazionale, 91 - 00184 Roma
Web page:
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: leverage; debt maturity; agency problems; enforcement; creditor rights;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Demirguc-Kunt, Asl1 & Maksimovic, Vojislav, 1996. "Institutions, financial markets, and firms'choice of debt maturity," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1686, The World Bank.
  2. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1999. "Investor Protection and Corporate Valuation," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1882, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.


This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


Access and download statistics


When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_376_00. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.