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Macroeconomic Conditions and the Puzzles of Credit Spreads and Capital Structure

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  • Hui Chen
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Abstract

I build a dynamic capital structure model that demonstrates how business-cycle variations in expected growth rates, economic uncertainty, and risk premia influence firms' financing and default policies. Countercyclical fluctuations in risk prices, default probabilities, and default losses arise endogenously through firms' responses to the macroeconomic conditions. These comovements generate large credit risk premia for investment grade firms, which helps address the "credit spread puzzle" and "under-leverage puzzle" in a unified framework. The model generates interesting dynamics for financing and defaults, including "credit contagion" and market timing of debt issuance. It also provides a novel procedure to estimate state-dependent default losses.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16151.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Publication status: published as Hui Chen, 2010. "Macroeconomic Conditions and the Puzzles of Credit Spreads and Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(6), pages 2171-2212, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16151

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  1. Altinkilic, Oya & Hansen, Robert S, 2000. "Are There Economies of Scale in Underwriting Fees? Evidence of Rising External Financing Costs," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 13(1), pages 191-218.
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  12. Duffie, Darrell & Lando, David, 2001. "Term Structures of Credit Spreads with Incomplete Accounting Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(3), pages 633-64, May.
  13. Fischer, Edwin O & Heinkel, Robert & Zechner, Josef, 1989. " Dynamic Capital Structure Choice: Theory and Tests," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 44(1), pages 19-40, March.
  14. Jarrow, Robert A & Lando, David & Turnbull, Stuart M, 1997. "A Markov Model for the Term Structure of Credit Risk Spreads," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 10(2), pages 481-523.
  15. Long Chen & Pierre Collin-Dufresne & Robert S. Goldstein, 2009. "On the Relation Between the Credit Spread Puzzle and the Equity Premium Puzzle," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(9), pages 3367-3409, September.
  16. Heitor Almeida & Thomas Philippon, 2005. "The Risk-Adjusted Cost of Financial Distress," NBER Working Papers 11685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Harjoat S. Bhamra & Lars-Alexander Kuehn & Ilya A. Strebulaev, 2010. "The Levered Equity Risk Premium and Credit Spreads: A Unified Framework," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(2), pages 645-703, February.
  18. Chapman, David A., 1997. "The cyclical properties of consumption growth and the real term structure," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 145-172, July.
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