Dissecting Bankruptcy Frictions
75 Pages Posted: 20 May 2019 Last revised: 2 Feb 2021
Date Written: November 19, 2020
How efficient is corporate bankruptcy in the U.S.? Two frictions, asymmetric information and conflicts of interest among creditors, can cause several inefficiencies: excess liquidation, excess continuation, and excess delay. We find that the bankruptcy process is quite inefficient, mainly due to excess delay. Eliminating information asymmetries would increase average total payouts by 4%, and eliminating conflicts of interest would increase them by 18% more. Without these frictions, 14% more cases would be resolved pre-court, and the remaining court cases would be 73% shorter. With less delay, bankruptcy’s indirect costs would be much lower. In contrast, inefficiencies from excess liquidation and excess continuation are quite small.
Keywords: Bankruptcy, structural estimation, conflicts of interest, asymmetric information
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