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The changing nature of debt and equity; a financial perspective


  • Franklin Allen


As a result of the historical importance of debt and equity, the traditional focus of inquiry into firms’ choice of capital structure has been "What is the optimal debt/equity ratio?" This approach lead to the Modigliani and Miller theorems and a large body of subsequent work but has not been very successful in explaining firms’ actual choices of debt and equity. The notion that firms finance their activities with debt and equity is a simplification; corporations have issued securities other than standard debt and equity for many centuries. This fact and the rapid pace of financial innovation in recent years suggests that a more fundamental issue than "What is the optimal debt/equity ratio?" is "What are the optimal securities that should be issued?" This paper surveys recent studies of capital structure that have looked at this question.
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Suggested Citation

  • Franklin Allen, 1989. "The changing nature of debt and equity; a financial perspective," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 33, pages 12-48.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbcp:y:1989:p:12-48:n:33

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sen, Partha & Turnovsky, Stephen J., 1989. "Deterioration of the terms of trade and capital accumulation: A re-examination of the Laursen-Metzler effect," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 227-250, May.
    2. Turnovsky, S. & Sen, P., 1988. "Deterioration Of The Term Of Trade And Capital Eccumulation A Reexamination Of The Laursen-Metzler Effect," Working Papers 88-08, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    3. Jeremy I. Bulow & Kenneth Rogoff, 1988. "Sovereign Debt Restructurings: Panacea or Pangloss?," NBER Working Papers 2637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Krugman, Paul, 1988. "Financing vs. forgiving a debt overhang," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 253-268, November.
    5. Jonathan Eaton & Mark Gersovitz & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1991. "The Pure Theory of Country Risk," NBER Chapters,in: International Volatility and Economic Growth: The First Ten Years of The International Seminar on Macroeconomics, pages 391-435 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Berg, Andrew & Sachs, Jeffrey, 1988. "The debt crisis structural explanations of country performance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 271-306, November.
    7. Khan, Mohsin S & Knight, Malcolm D, 1988. "Import Compression and Export Performance in Developing Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 315-321, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bohn, Henning, 1995. "Towards a theory of incomplete financial markets A review essay," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 433-449, November.
    2. Houston, Joel F. & Venkataraman, S., 1996. "Liquidation under moral hazard: Optimal debt maturity and loan commitments," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 115-133, January.

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    Debt ; Securities ; Corporations - Finance;


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