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

  • Efraim Benmelech
  • Nittai K. Bergman

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14059.

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Date of creation: Jun 2008
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Publication status: published as Efraim Benmelech & Nittai K. Bergman, 2008. "Liquidation Values and the Credibility of Financial Contract Renegotiation: Evidence from U.S. Airlines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1635-1677, November.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14059
Note: CF IO LE
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  1. Adriano Rampini & Andrea Eisfeldt, 2007. "Leasing, Ability to Repossess, and Debt Capacity," Working Papers 07-19, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1997. "Default and Renegotiation: A Dynamic Model of Debt," NBER Working Papers 5907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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 1343-66, September.
  4. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Stromberg, 2000. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets the Real World: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Capital Contracts," NBER Working Papers 7660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000387, David K. Levine.
  6. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1994. "Debt and Seniority: An Analysis of the Role of Hard Claims in Constraining Management," NBER Working Papers 4886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Str�mberg, 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.
  8. Asquith, Paul & Gertner, Robert & Scharfstein, David, 1994. "Anatomy of Financial Distress: An Examination of Junk-Bond Issuers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 625-58, August.
  9. Per Stromberg, . "Conflicts of Interest and Market Illiquidity in Bankruptcy Auctions: Theory and Tests," CRSP working papers 459, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  10. Baird, Douglas G & Picker, Randal C, 1991. "A Simple Noncooperative Bargaining Model of Corporate Reorganizations," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 311-49, June.
  11. Benmelech, Efraim & Bergman, Nittai K., 2009. "Collateral pricing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 339-360, March.
  12. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1991. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," STICERD - Theoretical Economics Paper Series /1991/233, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  13. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 473-94, July.
  14. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, March.
  15. Efraim Benmelech & Mark J. Garmaise & Tobias Moskowitz, 2004. "Do Liquidation Values Affect Financial Contracts? Evidence from Commercial Loan Contracts and Zoning Regulation," NBER Working Papers 11004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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 253-79, April.
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