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What do we know about the capital structure of privately held firms? Evidence from the Surveys of Small Business Finance

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  • Cole, Rebel

Abstract

The capital-structure decision is one of the most fundamental issues in corporate finance. Numerous studies have been conducted to test the two major competing theories of capital structure (Trade-Off Theory and Pecking-Order Theory), yet none of these studies has analyzed the capital-structure decisions of small, privately held U.S. firms, which constitute the vast majority of all U.S. business enterprises. In this study, we provide the first evidence on this important issue, utilizing data from four nationally representative surveys conducted by the Federal Reserve Board: the 1987, 1993, 1998 and 2003 Surveys of Small Business Finances (SSBF). We find that firm leverage as measured by the ratios of total loans to total assets and total liabilities to total assets is negatively related to firm size, age, profitability, liquidity and credit quality and is positively related to firm tangibility and limited liability. In addition, we find that firm leverage is an increasing function of both the number of banks and the number of non-bank financial institutions with which the firm has business relationships. Finally, we find no significant variations in firm leverage by race or ethnicity, but some evidence that femaleowned firms use less leverage. In general, these results are broadly supportive of the Pecking- Order Theory and inconsistent with the Trade-Off Theory.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8086.

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Date of creation: 16 Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8086

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Keywords: capital structure; pecking-order theory; small business; trade-off theory; SSBF;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Fryges, Helmut & Kohn, Karsten & Ullrich, Katrin, 2011. "The Interdependence of R&D Activity and Debt Financing of Young Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 6217, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Van Campenhout, Geert & Van Caneghem, Tom, 2009. "Information Availability, Information Quality and the Financial Structure of Belgian SME's," Working Papers 2009/27, Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel, Faculteit Economie en Management.
  3. Dong Xiang & Andrew C. Worthington & Helen Higgs, 2011. "Firm-level determinants and impacts of finance-seeking behaviour and outcomes for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Australia," Discussion Papers in Finance finance:201115, Griffith University, Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics.
  4. Colombatto, Enrico & Melnik, Arie & Monticone, Chiara, . "Relationships and the availability of credit to New Small Firms," Working Papers WP2011/11, University of Haifa, Department of Economics, revised 23 Oct 2011.
  5. Julia Hirsch & Uwe Walz, 2009. "Financing Decisions Along a Firm’s Life Cycle: Debt as a Commitment Device," Working Papers 0409, Universidad Iberoamericana, Department of Economics.
  6. Khaled Ba-Abbad & Nurwati Ashikkin Ahmad-Zaluki, 2012. "The Determinants of Capital Structure of Qatari Listed Companies," International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, Human Resource Management Academic Research Society, International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, vol. 2(2), pages 93-108, April.
  7. Morar Triandafil, Cristina & Poanta, Dorina, 2011. "Central and East European Corporate Finance: Between Commonality and Heterogeneity," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(3), pages 132-161, September.

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