IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ecl/stabus/3435.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Leverage Ratchet Effect

Author

Listed:
  • Admati, Anat R.

    (Stanford University)

  • DeMarzo, Peter M.

    (Stanford University)

  • Hellwig, Martin F.

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Pfleiderer, Paul

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

This paper explores the dynamics of corporate leverage when funding decisions are made in the interests of shareholders. In the absence of prior commitments or regulations, shareholder-creditor conflicts give rise to a leverage ratchet effect, which induces shareholders to resist reductions while favoring increases in leverage even when total-value maximization calls for the opposite. Unlike inefficiencies based on asymmetric information, the leverage ratchet effect applies to all forms of leverage reduction, including earnings retentions and rights offerings. The leverage ratchet effect is present even in the absence of frictions other than the inability to write complete contracts. The effect creates an agency cost of debt that lowers the value of the leveraged firm. Standard frictions magnify the impact of the effect. In a dynamic context, since leverage becomes effectively irreversible, firms may limit leverage initially but then ratchet it up in response to shocks. The resulting leverage dynamics can produce outcomes that cannot be explained by simple tradeoff considerations.

Suggested Citation

  • Admati, Anat R. & DeMarzo, Peter M. & Hellwig, Martin F. & Pfleiderer, Paul, 2015. "The Leverage Ratchet Effect," Research Papers 3435, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:3435
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/gsb-cmis/gsb-cmis-download-auth/418591
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Adrian, Tobias & Friedman, Evan & Muir, Tyler, 2015. "The Cost of Capital of the Financial Sector," CEPR Discussion Papers 11031, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Zhiguo He & Konstantin Milbradt, 2016. "Dynamic Debt Maturity," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 29(10), pages 2677-2736.
    3. repec:kap:jfsres:v:54:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10693-016-0265-y is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:jfinin:v:30:y:2017:i:c:p:86-106 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:3435. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/gsstaus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.