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Do Measures of Financial Constraints Measure Financial Constraints?

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  • Joan Farre-Mensa
  • Alexander Ljungqvist

Abstract

Financial constraints are not directly observable, so empirical research relies on indirect measures. We evaluate how well five popular measures (paying dividends, having a credit rating, and the Kaplan-Zingales, Whited-Wu, and Hadlock-Pierce indices) identify firms that are financially constrained, using three novel tests: an exogenous increase in a firm’s demand for credit; exogenous variation in the supply of bank loans; and the tendency for firms to pay out the proceeds of equity issues to their shareholders (“equity recycling”). We find that none of the five measures identifies firms that behave as if they were constrained: public firms classified as constrained have no trouble raising debt when their demand for debt increases, are unaffected by changes in the supply of bank loans, and engage in equity recycling. The point estimates are little different for supposedly constrained and unconstrained firms, even though we find important differences in their characteristics and sources of financing. On the other hand, privately held firms (particularly small ones) and public firms with below investment-grade ratings appear to be financially constrained.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19551.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19551

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Angelo Secchi & Federico Tamagni & Chiara Tomasi, 2014. "Financial constraints and firm exports: accounting for heterogeneity, self-selection and endogeneity," LEM Papers Series 2014/16, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  2. Huang, Yi & Loungani, Prakash & Wang, Gewei, 2014. "Minimum wages and firm employment: evidence from China," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 173, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  3. Wagner, Joachim, 2014. "Credit constraints and margins of import: First evidence for German manufacturing enterprises," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 344, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
  4. Joachim Wagner, 2013. "Credit constraints and exports: A survey of empirical studies using firm level data," Working Paper Series in Economics 287, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  5. Angelo Secchi & Federico Tamagni & Chiara Tomasi, 2013. "Export price adjustments under financial constraints," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 13057r, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne, revised Jan 2014.

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