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Are Corporate Default Probabilities Consistent with the Static Tradeoff Theory?

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  • Armen Hovakimian
  • Ayla Kayhan
  • Sheridan Titman

Abstract

Default probability plays a central role in the static tradeoff theory of capital structure. We directly test this theory by regressing the probability of default on proxies for costs and benefits of debt. Contrary to predictions of the theory, firms with higher bankruptcy costs, i.e., smaller firms and firms with lower asset tangibility, choose capital structures with higher bankruptcy risk. Further analysis suggests that the capital structures of smaller firms with lower asset tangibility, which tend to have less access to capital markets, are more sensitive to negative profitability and equity value shocks, making them more susceptible to bankruptcy risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Armen Hovakimian & Ayla Kayhan & Sheridan Titman, 2011. "Are Corporate Default Probabilities Consistent with the Static Tradeoff Theory?," NBER Working Papers 17290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17290
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Mauricio Jara-Bertín & Cristian Pinto-Gutiérrez & Carlos Pombo, 2018. "The Effect of Intra-Group Loans on the Cash Flow Sensitivity of Cash: Evidence from Chile," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015993, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    4. Faulkender, Michael & Smith, Jason M., 2016. "Taxes and leverage at multinational corporations," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 1-20.
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    6. Larkin, Yelena, 2013. "Brand perception, cash flow stability, and financial policy," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(1), pages 232-253.
    7. Alves, Paulo & Francisco, Paulo, 2013. "The Impact of Institutional Environment in Firms´ Capital Structure during the Recent Financial Crises," MPRA Paper 51300, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Chemmanur, Thomas J. & Cheng, Yingmei & Zhang, Tianming, 2013. "Human capital, capital structure, and employee pay: An empirical analysis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 478-502.
    9. Khatami, Seyed Hossein & Marchica, Maria-Teresa & Mura, Roberto, 2016. "Rating friends: The effect of personal connections on credit ratings," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 222-241.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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