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Leverage Dynamics and Financial Flexibility

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  • Patrick Bolton
  • Neng Wang
  • Jinqiang Yang

Abstract

We develop a q theory of investment with endogenous leverage, payout, hedging, and risk-taking dynamics. The key frictions are costly equity issuance and incomplete markets. We show that the marginal source of external financing on an on-going basis is debt. The firm lowers its debt when making a profit, increases its debt in response to losses and induced higher interest payments, and even taps external equity markets at a cost before exhausting its endogenous debt capacity. The firm seeks to preserve its financial flexibility by prudently managing its leverage and investment. Paradoxically, it is the high cost of equity issuance that causes the firm to keep leverage low, in contrast to the predictions of static Modigliani-Miller tradeoff and Myers-Majluf pecking-order theories. Our model generates leverage and investment dynamics that are consistent with the empirical evidence.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrick Bolton & Neng Wang & Jinqiang Yang, 2020. "Leverage Dynamics and Financial Flexibility," NBER Working Papers 26802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26802
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    3. Xia, Xin & Gan, Liu, 2021. "Financing with equity-for-guarantee swaps and dynamic investment under incomplete markets," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 349-360.
    4. Liu Gan & Chong Wang, 2021. "Option‐for‐guarantee swaps and flexible investment opportunities," International Review of Finance, International Review of Finance Ltd., vol. 21(4), pages 1286-1301, December.

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    JEL classification:

    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • 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

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