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Leverage, competition and financial distress hazard: Implications for capital structure in the presence of agency costs

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  • Ugur, Mehmet
  • Solomon, Edna
  • Zeynalov, Ayaz

Abstract

Does leverage or product-market competition increase or decrease financial distress risk? The existing literature provides conflicting and largely a-theoretical answers. Drawing on agency theory, we hypothesize that leverage and competition are incentive-alignment mechanisms with non-monotonic and substitute effects on financial distress hazard. Using an unbalanced panel of 13,896 listed firms from 1992 to 2014 and a multi-level hazard model that takes account of frailty and endogeneity, we find that leverage or competition have a hazard-reducing effect when the discipline effect dominates the agency-cost effect. In contrast, they have a hazard-increasing effect when the agency-cost effect dominates the discipline effect. Furthermore, the level of leverage that minimizes financial distress risk is higher in less competitive industries. Finally, long-term debt is a stronger disciplining device compared to short-term debt; and the financial distress predictors widely used in the literature explain only a small fraction of the distress hazard after controlling for leverage and competition.

Suggested Citation

  • Ugur, Mehmet & Solomon, Edna & Zeynalov, Ayaz, 2022. "Leverage, competition and financial distress hazard: Implications for capital structure in the presence of agency costs," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 108(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecmode:v:108:y:2022:i:c:s0264999321003291
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2021.105740
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial distress; Competition; Leverage; Hazard modeling;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • G30 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - General
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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