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Some Aspects of the Pure Theory of Corporate Finance: Bankruptcies and Take-Overs


  • Joseph E. Stiglitz


This paper considers the implications of bankruptcies, take-overs, and divergent expectations for the financial policy of the firm; we argue that, under reasonable assumptions, there is an optimal debt-equity ratio. Previous studies have shown that under very general conditions, if there is no chance of bankruptcy, then financial policy has no effect on the value of the firm; there is no optimal debt-equity ratio. Under certain very restrictive conditions, the no bankruptcy condition may be removed. We show that when these restrictive conditions are not satisfied, and when there is a real possibility of bankruptcy if the firm issues too much debt, the firm's valuation will depend on its debt-equity ratio; the real decisions of the firm (e.g., its investment and choice of technique) cannot be separated from its financial decisions; and the real decisions of the firm may not be productively efficient. Finally, the implications of the possibility of a take-over for the financial policy of the firm are considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1972. "Some Aspects of the Pure Theory of Corporate Finance: Bankruptcies and Take-Overs," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 3(2), pages 458-482, Autumn.
  • Handle: RePEc:rje:bellje:v:3:y:1972:i:autumn:p:458-482

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