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A regret theory of capital structure

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  • Wong, Kit Pong

Abstract

This paper examines the optimal capital structure of a firm that delegates its financing decision of a risky project to a manager who is both risk averse and regret averse. Regret aversion is characterized by a utility function that includes disutility from having chosen ex-post suboptimal alternatives. We show that the manager optimally opts for zero leverage if risk aversion is relatively more important than regret aversion in representing the manager’s preferences. Otherwise, the optimal capital structure is interior such that the optimal amount of debt increases when regret aversion becomes increasingly more important than risk aversion in representing the manager’s preferences. We further show that the firm’s market leverage ratio is inversely related to the project’s profitability and to the firm’s market-to-book ratio. These comparative static results are consistent with the robust evidence documented in the literature on empirical capital structure.

Suggested Citation

  • Wong, Kit Pong, 2015. "A regret theory of capital structure," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 48-57.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:finlet:v:12:y:2015:i:c:p:48-57
    DOI: 10.1016/j.frl.2014.12.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Udo Broll & Peter Welzel & Kit Pong Wong, 2016. "The Impact of Regret on Exports," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 17(2), pages 192-205, May.
    2. Udo Broll & Peter Welzel & Kit Pong Wong, 2016. "Regret theory and the competitive firm revisited," Eurasian Economic Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 6(3), pages 481-487, December.
    3. Broll, Udo & Welzel, Peter & Wong, Kit Pong, 2017. "The firm under regret aversion," CEPIE Working Papers 03/17, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).
    4. repec:eee:finlet:v:24:y:2018:i:c:p:273-277 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Capital structure; Managerial preferences; Regret theory;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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