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A Theory of Firm Decline

  • Gian Luca Clementi

    (New York University and RCEA)

  • Thomas Cooley

    (New York University and NBER)

  • Sonia Di Giannatal

    (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas)

We study the problem of an investor that buys an equity stake in an entrepreneurial venture, under the assumption that the former cannot monitor the latter’s operations. The dynamics implied by the optimal incentive scheme is rich and quite different from that induced by other models of repeated moral hazard. In particular, our framework generates a rationale for firm decline. As young firms accumulate capital, the claims of both investor (outside equity) and entrepreneur (inside equity) increase. At some juncture, however, even as the latter keeps on growing, invested capital and firm value start declining and so does the value of outside equity. The reason is that incentive provision is costlier the wealthier the entrepreneur (the greater is inside equity). In turn, this leads to a decline in the constrained–efficient level of effort and therefore to a drop in the return to investment.

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Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2010.88.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2010.88
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  1. Stephen Spear & Cheng Wang, . "When to Fire a CEO: Optimal Termination in Dynamic Contracts," GSIA Working Papers 2002-E5, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  2. Gina Luca Clementi & Hugo A Hopenhayn, 2006. "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 229-265, 02.
  3. Fernandes, Ana & Phelan, Christopher, 2000. "A Recursive Formulation for Repeated Agency with History Dependence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 223-247, April.
  4. Aubhik Khan & B. Ravikumar, 1998. "Growth and Risk-Sharing with Private Information," Macroeconomics 9802003, EconWPA.
  5. Espino, Emilio, 2004. "On Ramsey's Conjecture: Efficient Allocations in the Neoclassical Growth Model with Private Information," Economics Series 154, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  6. Peter M. Demarzo & Michael J. Fishman & Zhiguo He & Neng Wang, 2012. "Dynamic Agency and the q Theory of Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 67(6), pages 2295-2340, December.
  7. Sandro Brusco & Eva Ropero, 2007. "Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics with Durable Capital," Department of Economics Working Papers 07-08, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  8. Bohacek Radim, 2005. "Capital Accumulation in Private Information Economies," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-24, December.
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