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The Capital Structure Puzzle Revisited

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  • Berens, James L
  • Cuny, Charles J

Abstract

Corporate finance researchers have long been puzzled by low corporate debt ratios given debt's corporate tax advantage. This article recognizes that firm value typically reflects a growing stream of earnings, while current debt reflects a nongrowing stream of interest payments. Debt to value is therefore a distorted measure of corporate tax shielding. Even with very small debt- related costs, this may explain the observed magnitude and cross- sectional variation of debt ratios. Since this variation may be independent of tax shielding, debt ratios provide an inappropriate framework for empirically examining the trade-off theory of capital structure. Article published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Financial Studies in its journal, The Review of Financial Studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Berens, James L & Cuny, Charles J, 1995. "The Capital Structure Puzzle Revisited," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 8(4), pages 1185-1208.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:8:y:1995:i:4:p:1185-1208
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarkar, Sudipto, 2008. "Can tax convexity be ignored in corporate financing decisions?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1310-1321, July.
    2. repec:eee:quaeco:v:68:y:2018:i:c:p:211-225 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Cloyd, C. Bryan & Limberg, Stephen T. & Robinson, John R., 1997. "The Impact of Federal Taxes on the Use of Debt by Closely Held Corporations," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 50(2), pages 261-277, June.
    4. Karpavičius, Sigitas, 2014. "The cost of capital and optimal financing policy in a dynamic setting," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 42-56.
    5. Huang, Guihai & Song, Frank M., 2006. "The determinants of capital structure: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 14-36.
    6. Maria K. Markopoulou & Demetrios L. Papadopoulos, 2009. "An empirical investigation on the capital structure signalling theory of companies listed in the Greek Stock Exchange," Portuguese Journal of Management Studies, ISEG, Universidade de Lisboa, vol. 0(3), pages 217-238.
    7. Suhaila, Mat Kila & Wan Mahmood, Wan Mansor, 2008. "Capital Structure and Firm Characteristics: Some Evidence from Malaysian Companies," MPRA Paper 14616, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Vo, Xuan Vinh, 2017. "Determinants of capital structure in emerging markets: Evidence from Vietnam," Research in International Business and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 105-113.
    9. Cai, Jie & Zhang, Zhe, 2011. "Leverage change, debt overhang, and stock prices," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 391-402, June.
    10. Jonathan B. Berk & Richard Stanton & Josef Zechner, 2010. "Human Capital, Bankruptcy, and Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(3), pages 891-926, June.
    11. Pahnke, André & Schröder, Christian & Leonhardt, Fabian & Wiedemann, Arnd, 2015. "Finanzierungsstrukturen und -strategien kleiner und mittlerer Unternehmen: Eine Bestandsaufnahme," IfM-Materialien 242, Institut für Mittelstandsforschung (IfM) Bonn.
    12. Anwar, Sajid & Sun, Sizhong, 2015. "Can the presence of foreign investment affect the capital structure of domestic firms?," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 32-43.
    13. Chen, Dar-Hsin & Chen, Chun-Da & Chen, Jianguo & Huang, Yu-Fang, 2013. "Panel data analyses of the pecking order theory and the market timing theory of capital structure in Taiwan," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 1-13.
    14. Cloyd, C. Bryan & Limberg, Stephen T. & Robinson, John R., 1997. "The Impact of Federal Taxes on the Use of Debt by Closely Held Corporations," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 50(2), pages 261-77, June.
    15. Isil Erol & Dogan Tirtiroglu, 2011. "Concentrated Ownership, No Dividend Payout Requirement and Capital Structure of REITs: Evidence from Turkey," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 174-204, July.
    16. Miguel Ángel Ropero, 2000. "Adquisición de acciones propias: factores explicativos para el caso español," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 24(2), pages 329-355, May.
    17. Dudley, Evan, 2012. "Capital structure and large investment projects," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 1168-1192.
    18. Hailu, Getu & Goddard, Ellen W. & Jeffrey, Scott R., 2005. "Do Decision Makers' Debt-risk Attitudes Affect the Agency Costs of Debt?," CAFRI: Current Agriculture, Food and Resource Issues, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society, issue 06.
    19. Khaled Hussainey & Khaled Aljifri, 2012. "Corporate governance mechanisms and capital structure in UAE," Journal of Applied Accounting Research, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 13(2), pages 145-160, September.
    20. Cook, Douglas O. & Kieschnick, Robert & McCullough, B.D., 2008. "Regression analysis of proportions in finance with self selection," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 860-867, December.
    21. Wald, John K. & Long, Michael S., 2007. "The effect of state laws on capital structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 297-319, February.

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