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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. Steven N. Kaplan & Per Strömberg, 2000. "Financial Contracting Theory Meets the Real World: An Empirical Analysis of Venture Capital Contracts," CRSP working papers 513, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  2. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 252, David K. Levine.
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  5. Adriano Rampini & Andrea Eisfeldt, 2007. "Leasing, Ability to Repossess, and Debt Capacity," Working Papers 07-19, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Lucian Arye Bebchuk & Howard F. Chang, 1991. "Bargaining and the Division of Value in Corporate Reorganization," NBER Technical Working Papers 0097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W., 1992. "Liquidation Values and Debt Capacity: A Market Equilibrium Approach," Scholarly Articles 27692663, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  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.
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  12. Benmelech, Efraim & Bergman, Nittai K., 2009. "Collateral pricing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 339-360, March.
  13. 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.
  14. Hart, Oliver, 1995. "Firms, Contracts, and Financial Structure," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288817, December.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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