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Liquidation Values and the Credibility of Financial Contract Renegotiation: Evidence from U.S. Airlines

  • Efraim Benmelech

    (Harvard University and NBER)

  • Nittai K. Bergman

    (MIT Sloan School of Management)

How do liquidation values affect financial contract renegotiation? While the "incomplete-contracting" theory of financial contracting predicts that liquidation values determine the allocation of bargaining power between creditors and debtors, there is little empirical evidence on financial contract renegotiations and the role asset values play in such bargaining. This paper attempts to fill this gap. We develop an incomplete-contracting model of financial contract renegotiation and estimate it using data on the airline industry in the United States. We find that airlines successfully renegotiate their lease obligations downward when their financial position is sufficiently poor and when the liquidation value of their fleet is low. Our results show that strategic renegotiation is common in the airline industry. Moreover, the results emphasize the importance of the incomplete contracting perspective to real-world financial contract renegotiation. (c) 2008 by 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): 123 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1635-1677

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:4:p:1635-1677
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  1. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1997. "Default and Renegotiation: A Dynamic Model of Debt," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series /1997/321, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  2. Efraim Benmelech & Mark J. Garmaise & Tobias J. Moskowitz, 2005. "Do Liquidation Values Affect Financial Contracts? Evidence from Commercial Loan Contracts and Zoning Regulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1121-1154, August.
  3. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 252, David K. Levine.
  4. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Str�mberg, 2003. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets the Real World: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Capital Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 281-315.
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  6. Baird, Douglas G & Picker, Randal C, 1991. "A Simple Noncooperative Bargaining Model of Corporate Reorganizations," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 311-49, June.
  7. Andrea L. Eisfeldt & Adriano A. Rampini, 2009. "Leasing, Ability to Repossess, and Debt Capacity," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 1621-1657, April.
  8. Lucian Arye Bebchuk & Howard F. Chang, 1991. "Bargaining and the Division of Value in Corporate Reorganization," NBER Technical Working Papers 0097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Kaplan, Steven & Strömberg, Per Johan, 2000. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets The Real World: An Empirical Analysis Of Venture Capital Contracts," CEPR Discussion Papers 2421, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Per Stromberg, . "Conflicts of Interest and Market Illiquidity in Bankruptcy Auctions: Theory and Tests," CRSP working papers 459, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  11. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1994. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 841-79, November.
  12. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, March.
  13. Efraim Benmelech & Nittai K. Bergman, 2008. "Collateral Pricing," NBER Working Papers 13874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1994. "Debt and Seniority: An Analysis of the Role of Hard Claims in Constraining Management," NBER Working Papers 4886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 473-94, July.
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