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Debt, Taxes, and Liquidity

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  • Patrick Bolton
  • Hui Chen
  • Neng Wang

Abstract

We analyze a model of optimal capital structure and liquidity choice based on a dynamic tradeoff theory for financially constrained firms. In addition to the classical tradeoff between the expected tax advantages of debt and bankruptcy costs, we introduce a cost of external financing for the firm, which generates a precautionary demand for liquidity and an optimal liquidity management policy for the firm. An important new cost of debt financing in this context is an endogenous debt servicing cost: debt payments drain the firm's valuable liquidity reserves and thus impose higher expected external financing costs on the firm. The precautionary demand for liquidity also means that realized earnings are separated in time from payouts to shareholders, implying that the classical Miller-formula for the net tax benefits of debt no longer holds. Our model offers a novel perspective for the "debt conservatism puzzle" by showing that financially constrained firms choose to limit debt usages in order to preserve their liquidity. In some cases, they may not even exhaust their risk-free debt capacity.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Bolton & Hui Chen & Neng Wang, 2014. "Debt, Taxes, and Liquidity," NBER Working Papers 20009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20009
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jfinec:v:125:y:2017:i:2:p:266-285 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Andrea Barth & Santiago Moreno–Bromberg & Oleg Reichmann, 2016. "A Non-stationary Model of Dividend Distribution in a Stochastic Interest-Rate Setting," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 47(3), pages 447-472, March.
    3. repec:eee:finlet:v:21:y:2017:i:c:p:57-65 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Klimenko, Nataliya & Moreno-Bromberg, Santiago, 2016. "The shadow costs of repos and bank liability structure," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 1-29.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies

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