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Employment protection laws and corporate cash holdings

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  • Karpuz, Ahmet
  • Kim, Kirak
  • Ozkan, Neslihan

Abstract

We study how employment protection laws (EPLs) affect corporate cash-holding decision. By exploiting within-country changes in EPLs across 20 OECD countries as a source of variation in labor adjustment costs, we show that following an increase in the stringency of EPLs, firms’ cash holdings increase significantly. This relationship is stronger for firms with high labor turnover, no multinational presence, or financial constraints, indicating that labor adjustment cost raising distress risk is the mechanism in play. Cash buffers created by firms faced with stricter EPLs help them mitigate the underinvestment problem in subsequent episodes of industry-wide distress. Consistent with this precautionary motive, the market's valuation of excess cash is positively associated with the EPL strictness. We further demonstrate that the response of cash policy to changes in EPLs is distinct from that of debt policy or investment policy. Our evidence highlights the role of interaction between labor-market and financial frictions in determining the level and the value of corporate cash.

Suggested Citation

  • Karpuz, Ahmet & Kim, Kirak & Ozkan, Neslihan, 2020. "Employment protection laws and corporate cash holdings," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 111(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbfina:v:111:y:2020:i:c:s0378426619302791
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbankfin.2019.105705
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    Keywords

    Employment protection; Labor adjustment cost; Cash holdings; Value of cash;

    JEL classification:

    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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