IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Q Theory Without Adjustment Costs & Cash Flow Effects Without Financing Constraints


  • Janice C. Eberly
  • Andrew B. Abel


Tobin's Q exceeds one, even without any adjustment costs, for a firm that earns rents as a result of monopoly power or of decreasing returns to scale in production. Even when there are no adjustment costs and marginal Q is always equal to one, Tobin's Q is informative about the firm's growth prospects. We show that investment is positively related to Tobin's Q (which is observable average Q). This effect can be quantitatively small, which has been taken as evidence of very high adjustment costs in the empirical literature, but here is consistent with no adjustment costs at all. In addition, cash flow has a positive effect on investment, and this effect is larger for smaller, faster growing and more volatile firms, even though capital markets are perfect. These results provide a new theoretical foundation for Q theory and also cast doubt on evidence of financing constraints based on cash flow effects on investment

Suggested Citation

  • Janice C. Eberly & Andrew B. Abel, 2004. "Q Theory Without Adjustment Costs & Cash Flow Effects Without Financing Constraints," 2004 Meeting Papers 205, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:205

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 2000. "Exhuming Q: Market Power vs. Capital Market Imperfections," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0528, Econometric Society.
    2. Steven N. Kaplan & Luigi Zingales, 2000. "Investment-Cash Flow Sensitivities Are Not Valid Measures of Financing Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 707-712.
    3. William C. Brainard & James Tobin, 1968. "Pitfalls in Financial Model-Building," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 244, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    4. Steven N. Kaplan & Luigi Zingales, 1997. "Do Investment-Cash Flow Sensitivities Provide Useful Measures of Financing Constraints?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 169-215.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Caggese, Andrea, 2007. "Testing financing constraints on firm investment using variable capital," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 683-723, December.
    2. Becker Bo & Sivadasan Jagadeesh, 2010. "The Effect of Financial Development on the Investment-Cash Flow Relationship: Cross-Country Evidence from Europe," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-49, May.
    3. Huynh, Kim P. & Petrunia, Robert J. & Voia, Marcel, 2012. "Duration of new firms: The role of startup financial conditions, industry and aggregate factors," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 354-362.
    4. Bazdresch, Santiago, 2013. "The role of non-convex costs in firms' investment and financial dynamics," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 929-950.
    5. Janice Eberly & Sergio Rebelo & Nicolas Vincent, 2008. "Investment and Value: A Neoclassical Benchmark," Cahiers de recherche 08-03, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
    6. Guido Lorenzoni & Karl Walentin, 2006. "Financial Frictions, Investment and Tobin's q," 2006 Meeting Papers 844, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. von Kalckreuth, Ulf, 2008. "Financing constraints, firm level adjustment of capital and aggregate implications," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2008,11, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    8. Joerg Breitung & Robert Chirinko & Ulf von Kalckreuth, 2003. "A Vectorautoregressive Investment Model (VIM) and Monetary Policy Transmission: Panel Evidence from German Firms," Emory Economics 0307, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
    9. Stephen Bond & Dietmar Harhoff & John Van Reenen, 2010. "Investment, R&D and Financial Constraints in Britain and Germany," NBER Chapters,in: Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches, pages 433-460 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jean-Bernard Chatelain, 2003. "Structural Modelling of Financial Constraints on Investment: Where Do We Stand?," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00112522, HAL.
    11. Carlos Carreira & Filipe Silva, 2010. "No Deep Pockets: Some Stylized Empirical Results On Firms' Financial Constraints," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(4), pages 731-753, September.
    12. Russell Cooper & Joao Ejarque, 2003. "Financial Frictions and Investment: Requiem in Q," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(4), pages 710-728, October.
    13. Hennessy, Christopher A. & Levy, Amnon & Whited, Toni M., 2007. "Testing Q theory with financing frictions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 691-717, March.
    14. Charlie Weir & David Laing, 2003. "Ownership structure, board composition and the market for corporate control in the UK: an empirical analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(16), pages 1747-1759.
    15. Karl Walentin & Guido Lorenzoni & Dan Cao, 2013. "Financial Frictions, Investment and Tobin’s q," 2013 Meeting Papers 634, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Simon Price & Christoph Schleicher, 2006. "Returns to equity, investment and Q: evidence from the United Kingdom," Bank of England working papers 310, Bank of England.
    17. Martin D. Dietz, 2004. "Dividend and Capital Gains Taxation in a Cross-Section of Firms," Public Economics 0405004, EconWPA.
    18. Sumon Bhaumik & Pranab Kumar Das & Subal C. Kumbhakar, 2011. "Firm Investment & Credit Constraints in India, 1997 ??? 2006: A stochastic frontier approach," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp1010, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    19. William M. Gentry & Christopher J. Mayer, 2003. "What Can We Learn About the Sensitivity of Investment to Stock Prices with a Better Measure of Tobin's q?," Department of Economics Working Papers 2003-03, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    20. Jonathan N. Millar, 2005. "Gestation lags for capital, cash flows, and Tobin's Q," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-24, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    21. Leonardo Becchetti & Annalisa Castelli & Iftekhar Hasan, 2010. "Investment–cash flow sensitivities, credit rationing and financing constraints in small and medium-sized firms," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 35(4), pages 467-497, November.
    22. Katsuya Takii, 2005. "Limited Attention, Interaction and the Growth of a Firm," Macroeconomics 0506005, EconWPA.

    More about this item


    Q Theory; Cash Flow; Investment;

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed004:205. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.