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The magnitude and cyclical behavior of financial market frictions

  • Andrew T. Levin
  • Fabio M. Natalucci
  • Egon Zakrajsek

We quantify the cross-sectional and time-series behavior of the wedge between the cost of external and internal finance by estimating the structural parameters of a canonical debt-contracting model with informational frictions. For this purpose, we construct a new dataset that includes balance sheet information, measures of expected default risk, and credit spreads on publicly traded debt for about 900 U.S. firms over the period 1997Q1 to 2003Q3. Using nonlinear least squares, we obtain precise time-specific estimates of the bankruptcy cost parameter and consistently reject the null hypothesis of frictionless financial markets. For most of the firms in our sample, the estimated premium on external finance was very low during the expansionary period 1997-99, but rose sharply in 2000--especially for firms with higher ratios of debt to equity--and remained elevated until early 2003.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2004-70.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2004-70
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  1. Charles T. Carlstrom & Timothy S. Fuerst, 1996. "Agency costs, net worth, and business fluctuations: a computable general equilibrium analysis," Working Paper 9602, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
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  8. Gertler, M. & Gilchrist, S., 1993. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," Working Papers 93-02, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  9. Alderson, Michael J. & Betker, Brian L., 1995. "Liquidation costs and capital structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 45-69, September.
  10. Steven N. Kaplan & Luigi Zingales, 1997. "Do Investment-Cash Flow Sensitivities Provide Useful Measures of Financing Constraints?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 169-215.
  11. Delianedis, Gordon & Geske, Robert, 2001. "The Components of Corporate Credit Spreads: Default, Recovery, Tax, Jumps, Liquidity, and Market Factors," University of California at Los Angeles, Anderson Graduate School of Management qt32x284q3, Anderson Graduate School of Management, UCLA.
  12. Lars E.O. Svensson, 1994. "Estimating and Interpreting Forward Interest Rates: Sweden 1992 - 1994," NBER Working Papers 4871, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist & Fabio M. Natalucci, 2003. "External constraints on monetary policy and the financial accelerator," BIS Working Papers 139, Bank for International Settlements.
  14. Friedman, Benjamin M & Kuttner, Kenneth N, 1992. "Money, Income, Prices, and Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 472-92, June.
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  27. Fuerst, Timothy S, 1995. "Monetary and Financial Interactions in the Business Cycle," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 1321-38, November.
  28. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
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