IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Optimal Capital Structure, Endogenous Bankruptcy, and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads


  • Hayne E. Leland and Klaus Bjerre Toft.


This paper examines the optimal capital structure of a firm which can choose both the amount and maturity of its debt. Bankruptcy is determined endogenously rather than by the imposition of a positive net worth condition or by a cash flow constraint. The results extend Leland's [1994] closed-form results to a much richer class of possible debt structures and permits study of the optimal maturity of debt as well as the optimal amount of debt. The model generates predictions of leverage, credit spreads, default rates, and writedowns which accord quite closely with historical averages. While short term debt does not exploit tax benefits as completely as long term debt, it is more likely to provide incentive compatibility between debtholders and equityholders. The agency costs of "asset substitution" are minimized when the firm uses shorter term debt. The tax advantage of debt must be balanced against bankruptcy and agency costs in determining the optimal maturity of the capital structure. The model predicts differently shaped term structures of credit spreads for different levels of risk. These term structures are similar to that found empirically by Sarig and Warga [1989]. The model has important implications for bond portfolio management. In general, Macaulay duration dramatically overstates true duration of risky debt, which may be negative for "junk" bonds. Furthermore, the "convexity" of bond prices can become "concavity."

Suggested Citation

  • Hayne E. Leland and Klaus Bjerre Toft., 1995. "Optimal Capital Structure, Endogenous Bankruptcy, and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-259, University of California at Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucb:calbrf:rpf-259

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Leland, Hayne E, 1985. " Option Pricing and Replication with Transactions Costs," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 40(5), pages 1283-1301, December.
    2. George M. Constantinides, 2005. "Capital Market Equilibrium with Transaction Costs," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Theory Of Valuation, chapter 7, pages 207-227 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    3. Dumas, Bernard, 1991. "Super contact and related optimality conditions," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 675-685, October.
    4. Dumas, Bernard & Luciano, Elisa, 1991. " An Exact Solution to a Dynamic Portfolio Choice Problem under Transactions Costs," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 46(2), pages 577-595, June.
    5. Hayne Leland and Gregory Connor., 1995. "Optimal Cash Management for Investment Funds," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-244, University of California at Berkeley.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    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:ucb:calbrf:rpf-259. 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: (Christopher F. Baum). 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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.