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Systemic Financial Distress and Auction-Based Bankruptcy Reorganization


  • Donald B. Hausch

    (University of Wisconsin)

  • S. Ramachandran

    (World Bank)


Financial reorganization under bankruptcy reduces a firm's debts to a serviceable level through negotiations overseen by courts. Markets have been suggested as an alternative to such negotiations, recognizing that equity holders and junior claimants have call options to buy the firm back from senior creditors. This paper further develops this market-based approach when claimants are severely cash-constrained and there is merit in having existing owners-managers remain in control. The scheme arranges creditors in a queue to be serviced in sequence from the firm's operating cash flows. Creditors bid for their position in this queue, and those accepting a greater proportionate reduction in the face value of their claims (perhaps those most pessimistic about the firm's prospects) are placed ahead of the others. A pre-existing hierarchy of claims is honored by having claimants bid for their positions within the relevant segment of the queue. No one in the queue (including owners who are last) is paid anything until the (reduced) debts of the first in line are fully discharged using the firm's operating cash surpluses. The queue then moves up and the next claimant in line is serviced. The paper shows that, in equilibrium, the aggregate debts of the firm are reduced to a level that is more serviceable and that provides the owner-manager with a positive expected residual return. We discuss the appropriateness of this scheme to situations of systemic financial distress, including the East Asian crisis.

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  • Donald B. Hausch & S. Ramachandran, 2000. "Systemic Financial Distress and Auction-Based Bankruptcy Reorganization," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1423, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1423

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Philippe Aghion & Oliver D. Hart & John Moore, 1994. "The Economics of Bankruptcy Reform," NBER Chapters,in: The Transition in Eastern Europe, Volume 2, Restructuring, pages 215-244 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Peter Cramton, 1997. "The FCC Spectrum Auctions: An Early Assessment," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 431-495, September.
    3. Hart, Oliver & La Porta Drago, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Moore, John, 1997. "A new bankruptcy procedure that uses multiple auctions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 461-473, April.
    4. Berkovitch, Elazar & Israel, Ronen, 1999. "Optimal Bankruptcy Laws across Different Economic Systems," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 12(2), pages 347-377.
    5. Cramton, Peter C, 1995. "Money Out of Thin Air: The Nationwide Narrowband PCS Auction," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(2), pages 267-343, Summer.
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