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A Theory of Firm Decline

  • Gian Luca Clementi
  • Thomas F. Cooley
  • Sonia DiGiannatale

We study the problem of an investor who buys an equity stake in an entrepreneurial venture, under the assumption that the former cannot monitor the latter's operations. The dynamics implied by the optimal incentive scheme is rich and quite different from that induced by other models of repeated moral hazard. In particular, our framework generates a rationale for firm decline. As young firms accumulate capital, the claims of both investor (outside equity) and entrepreneur (inside equity) increase. At some juncture, however, even as the latter keeps on growing, invested capital and firm value start declining and so does the value of outside equity. The reason is that incentive provision is costlier the wealthier the entrepreneur (the greater is inside equity). In turn, this leads to a decline in the constrained-efficient level of effort and therefore to a drop in the return to investment.

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File URL: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~gclement/Papers/Decline.pdf
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Paper provided by New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 09-05.

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Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ste:nystbu:09-05
Contact details of provider: Postal: New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics, 44 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012-1126
Phone: (212) 998-0860
Fax: (212) 995-4218
Web page: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/economics/
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  1. Spear, Stephen E. & Wang, Cheng, 2005. "When to fire a CEO: optimal termination in dynamic contracts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 239-256, February.
  2. Khan, A. & Ravikumar, B., 1997. "Growth and Risk-Sharing with Private Information," Working Papers 97-13, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  3. Bohacek Radim, 2005. "Capital Accumulation in Private Information Economies," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-24, December.
  4. Gian Luca Clementi & Hugo Hopenhagn, 2004. "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," Working Papers 04-25, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  5. Zhiguo He & Neng Wang & Mike Fishman & Peter DeMarzo, 2008. "Dynamic agency and the q theory of investment," 2008 Meeting Papers 1070, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Sandro Brusco & Eva Ropero, 2007. "Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics with Durable Capital," Department of Economics Working Papers 07-08, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  7. Ana Fernandes & Christopher Phelan, 1999. "A recursive formulation for repeated agency with history dependence," Staff Report 259, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Espino, Emilio, 2005. "On Ramsey's conjecture: efficient allocations in the neoclassical growth model with private information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 192-213, April.
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