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Debt and Seniority: An Analysis of the Role of Hard Claims in Constraining Management

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  • Oliver Hart
  • John Moore

Abstract

We argue that long-term debt has a role in controlling management's ability to finance future investments. A company with high (widely-held) debt will find it hard to raise capital, since new security holders will have low priority relative to existing creditors. Conversely for a company with low debt. We show there is an optimal debt-equity ratio and mix of senior and junior debt if management undertakes unprofitable as well as profitable investments. We derive conditions under which equity and a single class of senior long-term debt work as well as more complex contracts for controlling investment behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1994. "Debt and Seniority: An Analysis of the Role of Hard Claims in Constraining Management," NBER Working Papers 4886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4886
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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