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A Gap-Filling Theory of Corporate Debt Maturity Choice

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  • Robin Greenwood
  • Samuel Hanson
  • Jeremy C. Stein

Abstract

We argue that time-series variation in the maturity of aggregate corporate debt issues arises because firms behave as macro liquidity providers, absorbing the large supply shocks associated with changes in the maturity structure of government debt. We document that when the government funds itself with relatively more short-term debt, firms fill the resulting gap by issuing more long-term debt, and vice-versa. This type of liquidity provision is undertaken more aggressively: i) in periods when the ratio of government debt to total debt is higher; and ii) by firms with stronger balance sheets. Our theory provides a new perspective on the apparent ability of firms to exploit bond-market return predictability with their financing choices.

Suggested Citation

  • Robin Greenwood & Samuel Hanson & Jeremy C. Stein, 2008. "A Gap-Filling Theory of Corporate Debt Maturity Choice," NBER Working Papers 14087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14087
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt

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