Financing the Deficit: Debt Capacity, Information Asymmetry, and the Debt-Equity Choice
45 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2005
Date Written: July 7, 2003
If Pecking Order behavior of financing choice is mitigated by debt capacity concerns, then Tradeoff and Pecking Order theories are difficult to distinguish empirically. In this paper, we extend the Myers and Majluf (1984) model to derive new testable implications of the interaction between adverse selection costs and debt capacity constraints. Our model predicts that the probability of debt issuance will be a non-monotonic function of the size of the financing deficit. The probability of debt issuance will initially increase in the size of the deficit as adverse selection costs of issuing equity outweigh the costs due to loss of debt capacity, then decrease as costs due to loss of debt capacity become more important, and finally increase again as the deficit becomes very large. Our empirical tests on a sample of firms from COMPUSTAT from 1971-1998 classified into five size groups demonstrate that, even after allowing for the possible endogeneity of the financing deficit, the predicted non-monotonicity prevails for all size group of firms. Even for those firms in the smallest size group for which debt capacity is not a dominant concern, the initial range over which the relationship between the deficit size and the probability of debt issue is significantly positive includes as much as 67% of all issues. Consistent with the predictions of the model, the intermediate range between the two turning points (over which the probability of debt issue decreases in the size of the deficit and debt capacity concerns dominate) is larger for smaller and younger firms. It is also larger for firms with lower past profitability, and firms with higher growth opportunities. We also find that the probability of debt issue is lower (higher) for firms that are above (below) an estimated target debt ratio, and higher for firms with higher past profitability, lower market-to-book, and poor recent stock price performance. Aside from demonstrating the relevance of both adverse selection costs and debt capacity constraints for firms' financing decisions, our results also show that firms exhibit target-reverting behavior and time the market.
Keywords: Pecking Order Hypothesis, Tradeoff Theory, Information Asymmetry, Debt Capacity
JEL Classification: G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation