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Liquidation Values and the Credibility of Financial Contract Renegotiation: Evidence from U.S. Airlines

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  • Efraim Benmelech
  • Nittai K. Bergman

Abstract

How do liquidation values affect financial contract renegotiation? While the 'incomplete contracting' theory of financial contracting predicts that liquidation values determine the allocation of bargaining power between creditors and debtors, there is little empirical evidence on financial contract renegotiations and the role asset values play in such bargaining. This paper attempts to fill this gap. We develop an incomplete-contracting model of financial contract renegotiation and estimate it using data on the airline industry in the United States. We find that airlines successfully renegotiate their lease obligations downwards when their financial position is sufficiently poor and when the liquidation value of their fleet is low. Our results show that strategic renegotiation is common in the airline industry. Moreover, the results emphasize the importance of the incomplete contracting perspective to real world financial contract renegotiation.

Suggested Citation

  • Efraim Benmelech & Nittai K. Bergman, 2008. "Liquidation Values and the Credibility of Financial Contract Renegotiation: Evidence from U.S. Airlines," NBER Working Papers 14059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14059
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Efraim Benmelech & Mark J. Garmaise & Tobias J. Moskowitz, 2005. "Do Liquidation Values Affect Financial Contracts? Evidence from Commercial Loan Contracts and Zoning Regulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 1121-1154.
    2. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
    3. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1992. " Liquidation Values and Debt Capacity: A Market Equilibrium Approach," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1343-1366, September.
    4. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1998. "Default and Renegotiation: A Dynamic Model of Debt," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 1-41.
    5. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Strömberg, 2003. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets the Real World: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Capital Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 281-315.
    6. Paul Asquith & Robert Gertner & David Scharfstein, 1994. "Anatomy of Financial Distress: An Examination of Junk-Bond Issuers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 625-658.
    7. Andrea L. Eisfeldt & Adriano A. Rampini, 2009. "Leasing, Ability to Repossess, and Debt Capacity," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(4), pages 1621-1657, April.
    8. Per Strömberg, 2000. "Conflicts of Interest and Market Illiquidity in Bankruptcy Auctions: Theory and Tests," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(6), pages 2641-2692, December.
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    11. Benmelech, Efraim & Bergman, Nittai K., 2009. "Collateral pricing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 339-360, March.
    12. Hart, Oliver & Moore, John, 1995. "Debt and Seniority: An Analysis of the Role of Hard Claims in Constraining Management," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 567-585, June.
    13. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 473-494.
    14. Bebchuk, Lucian Ayre & Chang, Howard F, 1992. "Bargaining and the Division of Value in Corporate Reorganization," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 253-279, April.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law
    • L93 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Air Transportation

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