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Real Flexibility and Financial Structure: An Empirical Analysis


  • Peter MacKay


I examine the empirical relation between real flexibility and financial structure. I test whether real flexibility increases debt capacity by lowering default risk and making assets more marketable or decreases debt capacity by facilitating risk shifting and asset substitution. I measure real flexibility as the sensitivity of marginal production and investment decisions to variations in the economic environment. I find that financial leverage is negatively related to production flexibility but positively related to investment flexibility. This split in results suggests that although asset substitution facilitated by investment flexibility can be prevented contractually, risk shifting facilitated by production flexibility is intractable. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter MacKay, 2003. "Real Flexibility and Financial Structure: An Empirical Analysis," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 16(4), pages 1131-1165.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:16:y:2003:i:4:p:1131-1165

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jerry Green, 1977. "The Non-existence of Informational Equilibria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 451-463.
    2. Bray, Margaret, 1985. "Rational Expectations, Information and Asset Markets: An Introduction," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(2), pages 161-195, June.
    3. Sanford J. Grossman, 1981. "An Introduction to the Theory of Rational Expectations Under Asymmetric Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(4), pages 541-559.
    4. Grossman, Sanford, 1978. "Further results on the informational efficiency of competitive stock markets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 81-101, June.
    5. Sanford Grossman, 1978. "Further results on the informational efficiency of competitive stock markets," Special Studies Papers 114, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    Cited by:

    1. Mitchell A. Petersen, 2009. "Estimating Standard Errors in Finance Panel Data Sets: Comparing Approaches," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(1), pages 435-480, January.
    2. Boyle, Glenn W. & Guthrie, Graeme A., 2006. "Hedging the value of waiting," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 1245-1267, April.
    3. Childs, Paul D. & Mauer, David C. & Ott, Steven H., 2005. "Interactions of corporate financing and investment decisions: The effects of agency conflicts," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 667-690, June.
    4. Falato, Antonio & Sim, Jae W., 2014. "Why Do Innovative Firms Hold So Much Cash? Evidence from Changes in State R&D Tax Credits," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2014-72, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Francesco D'Acunto & Ryan Liu & Carolin Pflueger & Michael Weber, 2017. "Flexible Prices and Leverage," CESifo Working Paper Series 6317, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Aabo, Tom & Pantzalis, Christos & Park, Jung Chul, 2016. "Multinationality as real option facilitator — Illusion or reality?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 1-17.
    7. Onur Boyabatlı & L. Beril Toktay, 2011. "Stochastic Capacity Investment and Flexible vs. Dedicated Technology Choice in Imperfect Capital Markets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(12), pages 2163-2179, December.
    8. Agliardi, Elettra & Koussis, Nicos, 2011. "Optimal capital structure and investment options in finite horizon," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 28-36, March.
    9. Bhanot, Karan & Mello, Antonio S., 2006. "Should corporate debt include a rating trigger?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 69-98, January.

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