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The Importance of Incomplete Information in Explaining the Existence of Costly Bankruptcy

  • Webb, David C

The standard theory of capital structure argues that firms trade off the tax advantage of debt against ba nkruptcy costs. R. A. Haugen and L. W. Senbet (1978) pointed out that there is a problem with this theory: if bankruptcy involves deadweig ht costs, shareholders and bondholders have an incentive to renegotia te before it occurs since in this way bankruptcy, and its costs, can be avoided. This implies costly bankruptcy will not occur and casts d oubt on the validity of the standard theory. This paper uses noncoope rative bargaining theory to formally model this idea. It then shows t hat if there is incomplete information, costly bankruptcy can occur. Copyright 1987 by The Review of Economic Studies Limited.

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Article provided by London School of Economics and Political Science in its journal Economica.

Volume (Year): 54 (1987)
Issue (Month): 215 (August)
Pages: 279-88

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Handle: RePEc:bla:econom:v:54:y:1987:i:215:p:279-88
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