Capital Budgeting and Idiosyncratic Risk

88 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2019 Last revised: 22 Dec 2020

See all articles by Paul H. Décaire

Paul H. Décaire

Arizona State University (ASU) - Finance Department

Date Written: December 22, 2020


Using an NPV-based revealed-preference strategy, I find that idiosyncratic risk affects the discount rate that firms use in their capital budgeting decisions. I exploit quasi-exogenous within-region variation in project-specific idiosyncratic risk and find that firms inflate their discount rate by 5 percentage points (pp) in response to an 18pp increase in idiosyncratic risk. Moreover, these discount rate adjustments are negatively associated with measures of firm profitability. I then explore how proxies for costly external financing and agency frictions relate to discount rate adjustments. Consistent with theoretical predictions, firms appear to adjust their discount rate to account for both frictions.

Keywords: Capital Budgeting, Corporate Investment, Empirical Corporate Finance, Risk Management

JEL Classification: G30, G31, G32

Suggested Citation

H. Décaire, Paul, Capital Budgeting and Idiosyncratic Risk (December 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Paul H. Décaire (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Finance Department ( email )

W. P. Carey School of Business
PO Box 873906
Tempe, AZ 85287-3906
United States

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