The Firm-Level Credit Multiplier
51 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2012 Last revised: 29 Feb 2012
Date Written: February 2012
We study the effect of asset tangibility on corporate financing and investment decisions. Financially constrained firms benefit the most from investing in tangible assets because those assets help relax constraints, allowing for further investment. Using a dynamic model, we characterize this effect - which we call firm-level credit multiplier - and show how asset tangibility increases the sensitivity of investment to Tobin's Q for financially constrained firms. Examining a large sample of manufacturers over the 1971-2005 period as well as simulated data, we find support for our theory's tangibility-investment channel. We further verify that our findings are driven by firms' debt issuance activities. Consistent with our empirical identification strategy, the firm-level credit multiplier is absent from samples of financially unconstrained firms and samples of financially constrained firms with low spare debt capacity.
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