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State Contract Law and Debt Contracts

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  • Colleen Honigsberg
  • Sharon Katz
  • Gil Sadka

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between debt contracts and state contract law. We first develop an index to evaluate whether each state's law is favorable or unfavorable to lenders. We then analyze how the contract terms, the frequency of covenant violations, and the repercussions of covenant violations vary across states. We find that cash collateral is most likely to be used when the contract is governed by law that is favorable to debtors and that out-of-state borrowers who use favorable law pay higher yield spreads. In addition, when the law is favorable to lenders, there are significantly fewer covenant violations, and the repercussions of covenant violations--measured as changes in the borrower's investment policy--are more severe. We also compare the characteristics of relevant parties across states, and the results provide support for the theory that there is a market for contracts similar to the market for incorporations.

Suggested Citation

  • Colleen Honigsberg & Sharon Katz & Gil Sadka, 2014. "State Contract Law and Debt Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(4), pages 1031-1061.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/680934
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:bla:joares:v:32:y:1994:i:2:p:137-164 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Cohen, Alma, 2003. "Firms' Decisions Where to Incorporate," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 383-425, October.
    3. Yaxuan Qi & John Wald, 2008. "State Laws and Debt Covenants," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 179-207, February.
    4. J. Anthony Cookson, 2010. "Institutions and Casinos on American Indian Reservations: An Empirical Analysis of the Location of Indian Casinos," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(4), pages 651-687.
    5. Douglas Cumming & Sofia Johan, 2006. "Is it the Law or the Lawyers? Investment Covenants around the World," European Financial Management, European Financial Management Association, vol. 12(4), pages 535-574.
    6. Jeffrey Milyo & David M. Primo & Matthew L. Jacobsmeier, 2006. "Estimating the Impact of State Policies and Institutions with Mixed-Level Data," Working Papers 0603, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
    7. Sergei A. Davydenko & Julian R. Franks, 2008. "Do Bankruptcy Codes Matter? A Study of Defaults in France, Germany, and the U.K," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(2), pages 565-608, April.
    8. Sudheer Chava & Michael R. Roberts, 2008. "How Does Financing Impact Investment? The Role of Debt Covenants," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(5), pages 2085-2121, October.
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