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Testing Theories of Capital Structure and Estimating the Speed of Adjustment

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  • Huang, Rongbing
  • Ritter, Jay R.

Abstract

This paper examines time-series patterns of external financing decisions and shows that publicly traded U.S. firms fund a much larger proportion of their financing deficit with external equity when the cost of equity capital is low. The historical values of the cost of equity capital have long-lasting effects on firms’ capital structures through their influence on firms’ historical financing decisions. We also introduce a new econometric technique to deal with biases in estimates of the speed of adjustment toward target leverage. We find that firms adjust toward target leverage at a moderate speed, with a half-life of 3.7 years for book leverage, even after controlling for the traditional determinants of capital structure and firm fixed effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Huang, Rongbing & Ritter, Jay R., 2009. "Testing Theories of Capital Structure and Estimating the Speed of Adjustment," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(02), pages 237-271, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jfinqa:v:44:y:2009:i:02:p:237-271_09
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