Corruption, Firm Governance, and the Cost of Capital
45 Pages Posted: 5 Jan 2005
We develop a model of a firm owned by shareholders and administered by managers who may be either honest or dishonest. When managers have an informational advantage but shareholders retain control, dishonest managers can make false reports that distort investment and thereby reduce firm cash flows. When dishonest managers have privileged access to both information and control, firm value is further reduced and profits are diminished especially in the worst states of the world. Ineffective corporate governance combined with corruption (dishonesty) thus increases firms' exposure to systematic risk. In a cross-country empirical test of the model, we find that corruption substantially increases firm betas, particularly in countries with weak shareholder rights. Moving from the level of corruption in Canada to that in South Korea raises industry-adjusted betas by 0.35.
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