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Anatomy of Financial Distress: An Examination of Junk-Bond Issuers

  • Asquith, Paul
  • Gertner, Robert
  • Scharfstein, David

This paper analyzes the ways in which financially distressed firms try to avoid bankruptcy through public and private debt restructurings, asset sales, mergers, and capital expenditure reductions. Their main finding is that a firm's debt structure affects the way financially distressed firms restructure. The combination of secured private debt and numerous public debt issues seems to impede out-of-court restructurings and increases the probability of a Chapter 11 filing. In addition, the authors find that, while asset sales are a way of avoiding Chapter 11, they are limited by industry factors: firms in distressed and highly leveraged industries are less prone to sell assets. Copyright 1994, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 109 (1994)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 625-58

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:3:p:625-58
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  1. Gilson, Stuart C., 1989. "Management turnover and financial distress," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 241-262, December.
  2. Warner, Jerold B, 1977. "Bankruptcy Costs: Some Evidence," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 337-47, May.
  3. Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1991. "Asset Sales and Debt Capacity," NBER Working Papers 3618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gilson, Stuart C. & John, Kose & Lang, Larry H. P., 1990. "Troubled debt restructurings*1: An empirical study of private reorganization of firms in default," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 315-353, October.
  5. Hoshi, Takeo & Kashyap, Anil & Scharfstein, David, 1990. "The role of banks in reducing the costs of financial distress in Japan," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 67-88, September.
  6. Haugen, Robert A & Senbet, Lemma W, 1978. "The Insignificance of Bankruptcy Costs to the Theory of Optimal Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 33(2), pages 383-93, May.
  7. Michael C. Jensen, 2010. "Active Investors, LBOs, and the Privatization of Bankruptcy," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 22(1), pages 77-85.
  8. Weiss, Lawrence A., 1990. "Bankruptcy resolution: Direct costs and violation of priority of claims," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 285-314, October.
  9. Robert Gertner & David Scharfstein, 1991. "A Theory of Workouts and the Effects of Reorganization Law," NBER Technical Working Papers 0103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Myers, Stewart C., 1977. "Determinants of corporate borrowing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 147-175, November.
  11. Gilson, Stuart C., 1990. "Bankruptcy, boards, banks, and blockholders : Evidence on changes in corporate ownership and control when firms default," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 355-387, October.
  12. 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.
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