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Capital Structure, Credit Risk, and Macroeconomic Conditions

40 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2003  

Jianjun Miao

Boston University - Department of Economics

Dirk Hackbarth

Boston University Questrom School of Business

Erwan Morellec

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne - Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Date Written: May 2004

Abstract

This paper develops a framework for analyzing the impact of macroeconomic conditions on credit risk and dynamic capital structure choice. We begin by observing that when cash flows depend on current economic conditions, there will be a benefit for firms to adapt their default and financing policies to the position of the economy in the business cycle phase. We then demonstrate that this simple observation has a wide range of implications for corporations. Notably, we show that our model can replicate observed debt levels and the countercyclicality of leverage ratios. We also demonstrate that it can reproduce the observed term structure of credit spreads and generate strictly positive credit spreads for very short maturities. Finally, we characterize the impact of macroeconomic conditions on the pace and size of capital structure changes, and debt capacity. A number of new predictions follow.

Keywords: Dynamic Capital Structure, Credit Spreads, Macroeconomic Conditions

JEL Classification: G12, G32, G33

Suggested Citation

Miao, Jianjun and Hackbarth, Dirk and Morellec, Erwan, Capital Structure, Credit Risk, and Macroeconomic Conditions (May 2004). Simon School of Business Working Paper No. FR 03-10. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=395480 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.395480

Jianjun Miao

Boston University - Department of Economics ( email )

270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-353-6675 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://people.bu.edu/miaoj

Dirk Hackbarth

Boston University Questrom School of Business ( email )

Department of Finance
595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
(617) 358-4206 (Phone)
(617) 353-6667 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://people.bu.edu/dhackbar/

Erwan Morellec (Contact Author)

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne ( email )

College of Management
Extranef Quartier UNIL-Dorigny
1015 Lausanne, CH-1015
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://sfi.epfl.ch/

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne - Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne ( email )

c/o University of Geneve
40, Bd du Pont-d'Arve
1211 Geneva, CH-6900
Switzerland

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