Stiffing the Creditor: The Effect of Asset Verifiability on Bankruptcy
87 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2017 Last revised: 10 May 2019
Date Written: May 7, 2019
Evidence suggests that asset pledgeability, debt complexity, and valuable control rights of dispersed debt influence distress resolution. We model how courts' imperfect verifiability of assets and valuable control of misaligned creditors shape firms' debt structure and create coordination problems that determine distress outcomes and financing. We test the model's predictions using an exogenous variation of in-court requirements to evaluate debtor proposals: The 1999 U.S. Supreme Court surprise ruling requiring reorganization plans that keep stockholders' interest to be exposed to a “market test”. We show that improved creditor protection significantly increases bankruptcy filings, recovery rates, and debt capacity of low-verifiability firms.
Keywords: Asset Verifiability, Bankruptcy, Chapter 11, Distress, Coordination, Creditor Protection
JEL Classification: G33, G34, G38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation