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Real Determinants of Corporate Leverage

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  • Alan J. Auerbach

Abstract

The U.S. corporate tax distorts the behavior of both real and financial decisions. With respect to the former, the variation in depreciation allowances and investment tax credit provisions across types of investments leads to widely vazying effective tax rates, especially since 1981. Financial policy is distorted by the differential treatment of debt and equity. The purpose of this paper is to examine, using firm-level panel data, the relationship between real and financial decisions by corporations, in part to determine the extent to which these biases off set or reinforce each other.Our results are tentative and suggest that patterns of real and financial behavior are only partially consistent with predictions of various capital structure models (e.g. bankruptcy/agency cost, limited taxshield)and that there is no obvious offset on the financial side to the tax bias against investment in structures.

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  • Alan J. Auerbach, 1983. "Real Determinants of Corporate Leverage," NBER Working Papers 1151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1151
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    1. James H. Scott Jr., 1976. "A Theory of Optimal Capital Structure," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(1), pages 33-54, Spring.
    2. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
    3. Taggart, Robert A, Jr, 1977. "A Model of Corporate Financing Decisions," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(5), pages 1467-1484, December.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach & Mervyn A. King, 1983. "Taxation, Portfolio Choice, and Debt-Equity Ratios: A General Equilibrium Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(4), pages 587-609.
    5. Stephen A. Ross, 1977. "The Determination of Financial Structure: The Incentive-Signalling Approach," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 8(1), pages 23-40, Spring.
    6. Miller, Merton H & Scholes, Myron S, 1982. "Dividends and Taxes: Some Empirical Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1118-1141, December.
    7. Myers, Stewart C., 1977. "Determinants of corporate borrowing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 147-175, November.
    8. DeAngelo, Harry & Masulis, Ronald W., 1980. "Optimal capital structure under corporate and personal taxation," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 3-29, March.
    9. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1973. "The Pricing of Options and Corporate Liabilities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 637-654, May-June.
    10. Miller, Merton H, 1977. "Debt and Taxes," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 32(2), pages 261-275, May.
    11. Alan J. Auerbach, 1979. "Wealth Maximization and the Cost of Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(3), pages 433-446.
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