Discount Rate Uncertainty and Capital Investment
58 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2020 Last revised: 13 Dec 2021
Date Written: December 12, 2021
Managers form noisy estimates of investors' required rates of return (discount rates) using economic models and market-based information. Discounted-cash-flow (DCF) methods, as commonly taught in MBA courses, lead to upward-biased estimates of project values in the presence of such noise, due to Jensen's inequality. We show that this bias affects corporate investment decisions and firm financial performance, and we test additional predictions derived from the DCF model in the presence of noisy discount rates. Our evidence implies that a one-standard-deviation increase in discount rate uncertainty is associated with increased firm investment of 6.8%, while profitability decreases by 4.1%.
Keywords: Capital Budgeting, Corporate Investment, Uncertainty, Discount Rate, Overinvestment
JEL Classification: G30, G31, G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation