Is Cash Negative Debt? A Hedging Perspective on Corporate Financial Policies

55 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2005 Last revised: 18 Aug 2010

See all articles by Viral V. Acharya

Viral V. Acharya

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance

Heitor Almeida

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Murillo Campello

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2005

Abstract

We model the interplay between cash and debt policies in the presence of financial constraints. While saving cash allows financially constrained firms to hedge against future income shortfalls, reducing debt - "saving borrowing capacity" - is a more effective way of securing future investment in high cash flow states. This trade-off implies that constrained firms will allocate excess cash flows into cash holdings if their hedging needs are high (i.e., if the correlation between operating cash flows and investment opportunities is low). However, constrained firms will use excess cash flows to reduce current debt if their hedging needs are low. The empirical examination of cash and debt policies of a large sample of constrained and unconstrained firms reveals evidence that is consistent with our theory. In particular, our evidence shows that financially constrained firms with high hedging needs have a strong propensity to save cash out of cash flows, while showing no propensity to reduce outstanding debt. In contrast, constrained firms with low hedging needs systematically channel free cash flows towards debt reduction, as opposed to cash savings. Our analysis points to an important hedging motive behind standard financial policies such as cash and debt management. It suggests that cash should not be viewed as negative debt.

Suggested Citation

Acharya, Viral V. and Almeida, Heitor and Campello, Murillo, Is Cash Negative Debt? A Hedging Perspective on Corporate Financial Policies (June 2005). NBER Working Paper No. w11391. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=734047

Viral V. Acharya

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~sternfin/vacharya/public_html/~vacharya.htm

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States

Heitor Almeida (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

515 East Gregory Drive
4037 BIF
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217-3332704 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.business.illinois.edu/FacultyProfile/faculty_profile.aspx?ID=11357

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Murillo Campello

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )

114 East Avenue
369 Sage Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.johnson.cornell.edu/Faculty-And-Research/Profile.aspx?id=mnc35

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138

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