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Optimal Debt Design and the Role of Bankruptcy

  • Ernst-Ludwig VON THADDEN
  • Erik BERGLÖF
  • Gérard ROLAND

This paper integrates the problem of designing corporate bankruptcy rules into a theory of optimal debt structure. We show that, in an incomplete-contracts framework with imperfect renegotiation, having multiple creditors increases a firm's debt capacity while increasing its incentives to default strategically. The optimal debt contract gives creditors claims that are jointly inconsistent in case of default. Bankruptcy rules, therefore, are a necessary part of the overall financing contract, to make claims consistent and to prevent a value reducing run for the assets of the firm. It is not optimal to treat creditors asymmetrically in default, but creditors may be protected by different security rights.

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File URL: http://www.hec.unil.ch/deep/textes/03.13.pdf
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Paper provided by Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP in its series Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) with number 03.13.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:lau:crdeep:03.13
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, Internef, CH-1015 Lausanne

Phone: ++41 21 692.33.20
Web page: http://www.hec.unil.ch/deep/publications/cahiers/series
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  15. Mathias Dewatripont & Jean Tirole, 1994. "A Theory of Debt and Equity: Diversity of Securities and Manager-Shareholder Congruence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1027-1054.
  16. Povel, Paul, 1999. "Optimal "Soft" or "Tough" Bankruptcy Procedures," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(3), pages 659-84, October.
  17. Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram G. Rajan, 2001. "Liquidity Risk, Liquidity Creation, and Financial Fragility: A Theory of Banking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 287-327, April.
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  25. Alberto Bisin & Adriano Rampini, 2006. "Exclusive contracts and the institution of bankruptcy," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 27(2), pages 277-304, January.
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