Explaining Corporate Capital Structure: Product Markets, Leases, and Asset Similarity
Joshua D. Rauh
Stanford Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; NBER
June 28, 2010
Better measurement of the output produced and capital employed by firms substantially improves the ability to explain capital structure variation in the cross-section. For every firm, we construct the set of other firms producing the same output using the set of product market competitors listed in the firm’s public SEC filings. In addition, we improve measurement of capital structure by explicitly accounting for leased capital. These two steps increase the explanatory power of the average capital structure of other firms producing similar output on a firm’s capital structure by 50%, compared to the use of the average unadjusted debt ratio of other firms in the same 3-digit SIC code. We provide evidence that the large explanatory power of the capital structure of other firms producing similar output is related to the assets used in the production process. Our findings suggest that what a firm produces and the assets used in production are the most important determinants of capital structure in the cross-section.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 55
Keywords: Capital Structure, Leases, Industries, Product Markets, Asset Tangibility, Liquidation Value
JEL Classification: G32
Date posted: April 19, 2010 ; Last revised: June 28, 2010
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