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Strategic Debt in Vertical Relationships

  • Gianni deFraja

    (University of York)

  • Claudio Piga

    (University of Nottingham)

We study a vertical relationship between two firms, and we show that the extent of the downstream firm's borrowing affects the contract offered by the upstream firm. We establish a negative relationship between the level of debt and the downstream firm's probability of bankruptcy. We also show that, unless the interest rate is very high, there exists a conflict of interest between the upstream and the downstream firm: the latter wants to take on more debt than the former would like it to. We interpret this finding as an explanation of the constraint imposed by franchisors on the debt level of their franchisees. Such a result is tested using a dataset combining both survey and balance sheet data. We find some support for our theoretical prediction that agent firms can use debt strategically.

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers with number 0059.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:0059
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  1. Williamson, Oliver E., 1989. "Transaction cost economics," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 3, pages 135-182 Elsevier.
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  3. James A. Brander & Tracy R. Lewis, 1988. "Bankruptcy Costs and the Theory of Oligopoly," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 21(2), pages 221-43, May.
  4. Phillips, Gordon M., 1995. "Increased debt and industry product markets An empirical analysis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 189-238, February.
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  7. Titman, Sheridan & Wessels, Roberto, 1988. " The Determinants of Capital Structure Choice," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(1), pages 1-19, March.
  8. Rajiv Lal, 1990. "Improving Channel Coordination Through Franchising," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 9(4), pages 299-318.
  9. Kovenock, D. & Phillips, G.M., 1995. "Capital Structure and Product Market Behavior: An Examination of Plant Exit and Investment Decisions," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 313.95, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  10. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
  11. Gal-Or, Esther, 1991. "Vertical Restraints with Incomplete Information," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(5), pages 503-16, September.
  12. Showalter, Dean M, 1995. "Oligopoly and Financial Structure: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 647-53, June.
  13. Holmstrom, Bengt R. & Tirole, Jean, 1989. "The theory of the firm," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 61-133 Elsevier.
  14. Demsetz, Harold & Lehn, Kenneth, 1985. "The Structure of Corporate Ownership: Causes and Consequences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1155-77, December.
  15. Brander, James A & Spencer, Barbara J, 1989. "Moral Hazard and Limited Liability: Implications for the Theory of the Firm," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 30(4), pages 833-49, November.
  16. Marsh, Paul, 1982. " The Choice between Equity and Debt: An Empirical Study," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 37(1), pages 121-44, March.
  17. Mathewson, G Frank & Winter, Ralph A, 1985. "The Economics of Franchise Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 503-26, October.
  18. Kim, Wi Saeng & Sorensen, Eric H., 1986. "Evidence on the Impact of the Agency Costs of Debt on Corporate Debt Policy," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(02), pages 131-144, June.
  19. Chevalier, Judith A, 1995. "Capital Structure and Product-Market Competition: Empirical Evidence from the Supermarket Industry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 415-35, June.
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