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Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment: Response to Kaplan and Zingales

  • Steven M. Fazzari
  • R. Glenn Hubbard
  • Bruce C. Petersen

Kaplan and Zingales (1995, hereafter KZ) criticize Fazzari, Hubbard and Petersen (1988, hereafter FHP) and much ensuing research that uses cross-sectional differences in firm behavior to test for financing constraints on investment. This reply identifies flaws in the KZ analysis. The questions KZ raise have been considered extensively and rigorously in the literature (most of which is not addressed in KZ), with results broadly similar to those of FHP. We also challenge both of KZ's main results. First, their finding that most of the FHP firms are not financially constrained relies on an inappropriate operational definition of what it means to be constrained. Their definition ignores the incentives for firms that operate in imperfect capital markets to accumulate stocks of cash or maintain unused debt capacity to offset partially shocks to the flow of internal finance. Second, the KZ regression results (lower sensitivity of investment to cash flow for firms classified as constrained than for those classified as unconstrained) are uninformative. Their classification approach relies on possibly self- serving managerial statements that may present a distorted picture of firm's availability of finance. It also employs misleading criteria to make unrealistically fine distinctions in the degree of financing constraints, and emphasizes financial distress rather than financing constraints. Finally, econometric problems affect the interpretation of the KZ regressions. We conclude that the KZ findings do not contradict the interpretation of the empirical results in FHP and subsequent research.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5462.

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Date of creation: Jan 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol 115, no. 2, (May 2000), pp. 695-705.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5462
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  1. Steven N. Kaplan & Luigi Zingales, 1995. "Do Financing Constraints Explain Why Investment is Correlated with Cash Flow?," NBER Working Papers 5267, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Steven M. Fazzari & Bruce C. Petersen, 1993. "Working Capital and Fixed Investment: New Evidence on Financing Constraints," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 328-342, Autumn.
  3. Fumio Hayashi & Tohru Inoue, 1990. "The Relation Between Firm Growth and Q with Multiple Capital Goods: Theory and Evidence from Panel Data on Japanese Firms," NBER Working Papers 3326, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Abel, Andrew B & Blanchard, Olivier J, 1986. "The Present Value of Profits and Cyclical Movements in Investment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(2), pages 249-73, March.
  5. Charles W. Calomiris & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1989. "Price Flexibility, Credit Availability, and Economic Fluctuations: Evidence from the United States, 1894–1909," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(3), pages 429-452.
  6. Toni M. Whited, 1990. "Debt, liquidity constraints, and corporate investment: evidence from panel data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 114, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Grossman, Sanford J. & Vila, Jean-Luc, 1992. "Optimal Dynamic Trading with Leverage Constraints," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(02), pages 151-168, June.
  8. Himmelberg, Charles P & Petersen, Bruce C, 1994. "R&D and Internal Finance: A Panel Study of Small Firms in High-Tech Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 38-51, February.
  9. Victor Zarnowitz, 1992. "Business Cycles: Theory, History, Indicators, and Forecasting," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number zarn92-1, June.
  10. R. Glenn Hubbard & Anil Kashyap, 1990. "Internal Net Worth and the Investment Process: An Application to U.S. Agriculture," NBER Working Papers 3339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Takeo Hoshi & Anil K. Kashyap & David Scharfstein, 1989. "Corporate structure, liquidity, and investment: evidence from Japanese industrial groups," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 82, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  12. Kenneth A. Froot & Jeremy C. Stein, 1991. "Exchange Rates and Foreign Direct Investment: An Imperfect Capital Markets Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1191-1217.
  13. Calomiris, Charles W & Hubbard, R Glenn, 1995. "Internal Finance and Investment: Evidence from the Undistributed Profits Tax of 1936-37," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68(4), pages 443-82, October.
  14. Hubbard, R Glenn & Kashyap, Anil K & Whited, Toni M, 1995. "International Finance and Firm Investment," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(3), pages 683-701, August.
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