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Reorganization or Liquidation: Bankruptcy Choice and Firm Dynamics

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  • Dean Corbae
  • Pablo D'Erasmo

Abstract

In this paper, we ask how bankruptcy law affects the financial decisions of corporations and its implications for firm dynamics. According to current U.S. law, firms have two bankruptcy options: Chapter 7 liquidation and Chapter 11 reorganization. Using Compustat data, we first document capital structure and investment decisions of non-bankrupt, Chapter 11, and Chapter 7 firms. Using those data moments, we then estimate parameters of a firm dynamics model with endogenous entry and exit to include both bankruptcy options in a general equilibrium environment. Finally, we evaluate a bankruptcy policy change recommended by the American Bankruptcy Institute that amounts to a “fresh start” for bankrupt firms. We find that changes to the law can have sizable consequences for borrowing costs and capital structure which via selection affects productivity (allocative efficiency rises by 2.58%) and welfare (rises by 0.54%).

Suggested Citation

  • Dean Corbae & Pablo D'Erasmo, 2017. "Reorganization or Liquidation: Bankruptcy Choice and Firm Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 23515, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23515
    Note: CF EFG IFM
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    References listed on IDEAS

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

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