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Is financial leverage mean-reverting? Unit root tests and corporate financing models


  • M. E. Bontempi
  • R. Golinelli


In this paper we use the unit root test at both individual company (Dickey-Fuller) and panel (Im-Pesaran-Shin) level, in order to provide some quantitative evidence of the univariate behaviour of Italian companies’ debt-ratio. If it is mean-reverting, then at least a share of companies are going to behave according to the trade-off model, whereas if it is non-stationary, then companies may behave according to pecking order theory. Individual company test results support the pecking order theory in the case of more than 80% of firms, while the panel test rejects the unit root null. These contradictory results can be explained by the heterogeneity of the firms which tends to characterise the entire panel. For this reason, we selected a number of sub-samples in which companies are supposed to follow either the pure trade-off or the pure pecking order model of behaviour. Results confirm that: a) heterogeneity may lead to a false rejection of the pecking order theory in panel unit root tests; b) both trade off and pecking order theories contribute towards explaining the financial behaviour of Italian companies; c) the testing procedure we propose has the power to reject the pure pecking order model under the null hypothesis, but not the pure trade-off model.

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  • M. E. Bontempi & R. Golinelli, 2001. "Is financial leverage mean-reverting? Unit root tests and corporate financing models," Working Papers 422, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  • Handle: RePEc:bol:bodewp:422

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Diamond, Douglas W, 1991. "Monitoring and Reputation: The Choice between Bank Loans and Directly Placed Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 689-721, August.
    2. Frankel, Jeffrey A. & Rose, Andrew K., 1996. "A panel project on purchasing power parity: Mean reversion within and between countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1-2), pages 209-224, February.
    3. Maria Elena Bontempi, 2002. "The dynamic specification of the modified pecking order theory: Its relevance to Italy," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 1-22.
    4. Anindya Banerjee & Massimiliano Marcellino & Chiara Osbat, 2005. "Testing for PPP: Should we use panel methods?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 77-91, January.
    5. Myers, Stewart C., 1977. "Determinants of corporate borrowing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 147-175, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arturo Capasso & Carmen Gallucci & Matteo Rossi, 2015. "Standing the test of time. Does firm performance improve with age? An analysis of the wine industry," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 57(7), pages 1037-1053, October.
    2. Giorgio Canarella & Mahmoud Nourayi & Michael J. Sullivan, 2014. "An alternative test of the trade-off theory of capital structure," Contemporary Economics, University of Finance and Management in Warsaw, vol. 8(4), December.
    3. repec:taf:applec:v:49:y:2017:i:41:p:4148-4160 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:spr:chfecr:v:4:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1186_s40589-016-0041-z is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Roberto Golinelli & Sergio Pastorello, 2002. "Modelling the demand for M3 in the Euro area," The European Journal of Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(4), pages 371-401.

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