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Corporate hedging versus risk-shifting in financially constrained firms: The time-horizon matters!

  • Kuersten, Wolfgang
  • Linde, Rainer
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    The paper presents an intertemporal theory of the optimal risk policy in shareholder-managed firms, which face future financing constraints and act under moral hazard as well as limited liability. Our model provides an integrated framework that overcomes the dilemma of "conflicting motives" of risk-shifting (Jensen and Meckling, 1976) on the one hand and corporate hedging (Smith and Stulz, 1985) on the other hand by considering time-effects. Shareholders face a trade-off between a risk-shifting incentive if the investment horizon is short, and a hedging incentive that becomes dominant if the investment horizon is sufficiently long. Within an infinite-time investment horizon, Jensen and Meckling's risk incentive problem can be fully solved as permanent hedging is optimal except for firms in financial distress, which constantly opt for risk-shifting. We further show that the value of corporate hedging increases if financing constraints become more severe. Our results suggest that life-cycle features play a significant role in the firm's propensity to hedge. They also coincide with existing empirical evidence, which shows that only highly leveraged firms facing financial distress will primarily opt for risk-shifting.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Corporate Finance.

    Volume (Year): 17 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 (June)
    Pages: 502-525

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:corfin:v:17:y:2011:i:3:p:502-525
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jcorpfin

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