Macroeconomic Conditions and Capital Structure Adjustment Speed
56 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2008
Date Written: March 3, 2008
Studies show that capital structure choice varies over time and across firms and that macroeconomic conditions are important factors in analyzing firms' financing choices. However, studies have largely ignored the impact of macroeconomic conditions on the adjustment speed of capital structure toward targets. Hackbarth et al. (2006) develop a contingent model for analyzing the impact of macroeconomic conditions on dynamic capital structure choice. Allowing for dynamic capital structure adjustments, their model predicts that firms should adjust their capital structure faster in booms than in recessions. We employ U.S. data over a 30 year sample period to test the relationship between macroeconomic conditions and capital structure adjustment speed using both two-stage and integrated partial adjustment dynamic capital structure models. We find evidence supporting the prediction from Hackbarth et al's theoretical framework that firms adjust to target leverage faster in good states than in bad states, where states are defined by term spread, default spread, GDP growth rate, and market dividend yield. Our results also support the pecking order theory in that under-levered firms adjust faster than firms that are over-levered. We find evidence favoring the market timing theory implication that under-levered firms have less incentive to adjust toward target leverage when stock market performance is good, as measured by dividend yield on the market and price-output ratio. Robustness tests demonstrate that our speed of capital structure adjustment cannot be simply explained by firm size, the degree of deviation from target, or by the definition of debt ratio. Our results are also robust to potential boundary issues.
Keywords: Dynamic capital structure, speed of adjustment, macroeconomic conditions
JEL Classification: G11, G18, G23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation