44 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2016
Date Written: September 9, 2016
I empirically test whether firms engage in risk-shifting. Contrary to what risk-shifting theory predicts, I find that firms reduce investment risk when they approach financial distress. To identify the effect of distress on risk-taking, I use a natural experiment with exogenous changes to leverage. Risk reduction is most prevalent among firms that have shorter maturity debt, bank debt, and tighter bank loan financial covenants. These findings suggest that debt composition and financial covenants serve as important mechanisms to mitigate debt-equity agency conflicts, such as risk-shifting, that are not explicitly contracted on.
JEL Classification: G31, G32, G33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation