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Public Policy Toward Bankruptcy: Me-First and Other Priority Rules


  • Michelle J. White


This article analyzes the economic efficiency properties of bankruptcy liquidation rules, including both conventional legal rules and the me-first rule proposed by economists. It also examines the incentives of firms to undertake investment projects when bankruptcy is a possible outcome. The results show that none of the rules leads to private investment incentives which are socially efficient. Depending on circumstances, it may be privately profitable to liquidate firms which should be continued or to continue firms which should be liquidated. Investments in low productivity projects may be approved while worthwhile projects may be abandoned. Public policy implications are considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Michelle J. White, 1980. "Public Policy Toward Bankruptcy: Me-First and Other Priority Rules," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(2), pages 550-564, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:11:y:1980:i:autumn:p:550-564

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Samet, Dov & Tauman, Yair, 1982. "The Determination of Marginal Cost Prices under a Set of Axioms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 895-909, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Steven N. Kaplan & Jeremy C. Stein, 1991. "The Evolution of Buyout Pricing and Financial Structure," NBER Working Papers 3695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Patrick Bolton & Olivier Jeanne, 2009. "Structuring and Restructuring Sovereign Debt: The Role of Seniority -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 879-902.
    3. Dinev, Nikolay, 2017. "Voluntary Bankruptcy as Preemptive Persuasion," Economics Series 334, Institute for Advanced Studies.
    4. Paul Asquith & Robert Gertner & David Scharfstein, 1991. "Anatomy of Financial Distress: An Examination of Junk-Bond Issuers," NBER Working Papers 3942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Bolton, Patrick & Jeanne, Olivier, 2005. "Structuring and Restructuring Sovereign Debt: The Role of Seniority," CEPR Discussion Papers 4901, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Gelter, Martin, 2006. "The subordination of shareholder loans in bankruptcy," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 478-502, December.
    7. de Jong, A., 2004. "It Takes Two To Tango: an empirical tale of distressed firms and assisting banks," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2004-049-F&A, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    8. Gangopadhyay, Shubhashis & Mukhopadhyay, Bappaditya, 2002. "Multiple bank lending and seniority in claims," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 7-30.
    9. Couwenberg, Oscar & de Jong, Abe, 2006. "It takes two to tango: An empirical tale of distressed firms and assisting banks," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 429-454, December.
    10. Bhattacharyya, Sugato & Singh, Rajdeep, 1999. "The resolution of bankruptcy by auction: allocating the residual right of design," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 269-294, December.
    11. Stanley D. Longhofer & Stephen R. Peters, 2000. "Protection for whom? creditor conflicts in bankruptcy," Working Paper 9909R, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    12. Stanley D. Longhofer, 1998. "Beneficial "firm runs"," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Q I, pages 21-29.
    13. Bigus, Jochen, 2002. "Bankruptcy law, asset substitution problem, and creditor conflicts," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 109-132, August.
    14. Couwenberg, Oscar & Lubben, Stephen J., 2013. "Solving creditor problems in the twilight zone: Superfluous law and inadequate private solutions," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 61-76.
    15. Bolton, Patrick & Scharfstein, David S, 1996. "Optimal Debt Structure and the Number of Creditors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 1-25, February.
    16. Stanley D. Longhofer, 1994. "Bankruptcy rules and debt contracting: on the relative efficiency of absolute priority, proportionate priority, and first-come, first-served rules," Working Paper 9415, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

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