Crowded out from the Beginning: Impact of Government Debt on Corporate Financing
61 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2020 Last revised: 13 Aug 2020
Date Written: January 31, 2020
Using hand-collected data on corporate bond and stock offerings, we identify the impact of government debt on corporate financing during World War I. The early twentieth century provides a unique opportunity to identify the impact of government debt on private financing because during this period (1) firms announced the amount they wanted to raise before each security offering and (2) the Treasury issued debt in discrete intervals. We identify the impact of Treasury issues by comparing differences in the amount firms offered to the amount they actually raised when the Treasury was borrowing to when the Treasury was not in the market. We find that long term government bond offerings negatively affect both amount of long-term corporate bonds and dividend paying stocks issued. In contrast, we find no effect of government bond offerings on short term debt issue. Our findings suggest that investors view dividend paying stocks as a close substitute for relatively safe long-term bonds.
Keywords: Government Debt, Crowding Out, Capital Structure, War Finance
JEL Classification: E44, G20, N42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation