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Cash Holdings and Credit Risk

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  • Viral V. Acharya
  • Sergei A. Davydenko
  • Ilya A. Strebulaev

Abstract

Intuition suggests that firms with higher cash holdings are safer and should have lower credit spreads. Yet empirically, the correlation between cash and spreads is robustly positive and higher for lower credit ratings. This puzzling finding can be explained by the precautionary motive for saving cash. In our model endogenously determined optimal cash reserves are positively related to credit risk, resulting in a positive correlation between cash and spreads. In contrast, spreads are negatively related to the "exogenous'' component of cash holdings that is independent of credit risk factors. Similarly, although firms with higher cash reserves are less likely to default over short horizons, endogenously determined liquidity may be related positively to the longer-term probability of default. Our empirical analysis confirms these predictions, suggesting that precautionary savings are central to understanding the effects of cash on credit risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Viral V. Acharya & Sergei A. Davydenko & Ilya A. Strebulaev, 2011. "Cash Holdings and Credit Risk," NBER Working Papers 16995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16995
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    Cited by:

    1. Heitor Almeida & Murillo Campello & Igor Cunha & Michael S. Weisbach, 2014. "Corporate Liquidity Management: A Conceptual Framework and Survey," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 135-162, December.
    2. Wang, Jia & Meric, Gulser & Liu, Zugang & Meric, Ilhan, 2009. "Stock market crashes, firm characteristics, and stock returns," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1563-1574, September.
    3. Ramin P. Baghai & Henri Servaes & Ane Tamayo, 2014. "Have Rating Agencies Become More Conservative? Implications for Capital Structure and Debt Pricing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 69(5), pages 1961-2005, October.
    4. Hilscher, Jens & Şişli-Ciamarra, Elif, 2013. "Conflicts of interest on corporate boards: The effect of creditor-directors on acquisitions," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 140-158.
    5. M. Peiris & Alexandros Vardoulakis, 2013. "Savings and default," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 54(1), pages 153-180, September.

    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
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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