Firm Size and Capital Structure
London Business School
Ilya A. Strebulaev
Stanford University - Graduate School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research
AFA 2008 New Orleans Meetings Paper
Firm size has been empirically found to be strongly positively related to capital structure. This paper investigates whether a dynamic capital structure model can explain the cross-sectional size-leverage relationship. The driving force that we consider is the presence of fixed costs of external financing that lead to infrequent restructuring and create a wedge between small and large firms. We find four firm-size effects on leverage. Small firms choose higher leverage at the moment of refinancing to compensate for less frequent rebalancings. Their longer waiting times between refinancings lead to lower levels of leverage at the end of restructuring periods. Within one refinancing cycle the intertemporal relationship between leverage and firm size is negative. Finally, there is a mass of firms opting for no leverage. The analysis of dynamic economy demonstrates that in cross-section the relationship between leverage and size is positive and thus fixed costs of financing contribute to the explanation of the stylized size-leverage relationship. However, the relationship changes sign when we control for the presence of unlevered firms.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: Capital structure, leverage, firm size, transaction costs, default, dynamic programming, dynamic economy, refinancing point
JEL Classification: G12, G32working papers series
Date posted: March 23, 2005
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