Self-Fulfilling Prophecies of Failure: The Endogenous Balance Sheets of Distressed Companies

33 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2006  

Geoff Meeks

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School

J. G. Meeks

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics and Politics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2006

Abstract

This paper analyses a problem at the intersection of accounting, law and economics: the economically efficient operation of legal arangements for company failure is undermined because valuations of assets and liabilities become unstable once a firm is distressed. The paper draws on the three disciplines to show the pivotal role of asset and liability valuations in answering the legal question, whether the firm is insolvent, and the economic question, whether the firm should fail, and its assets be redeployed to an alternative use. US and UK evidence reveals a disconcerting indeterminacy in these processes: the probability that a firm will fail affects significantly the valuations asigned to assets and liabilities; but at the same time the valuation of assets and liabilities itself determines the probability of failure. This balance sheet endogeneity is then shown to delay economically efficient management changes under debtor-oriented US Chapter 11, and to induce unnecessary costly bankruptcy with creditor-oriented UK receivership.

Keywords: bankruptcy, exit, asset valuation

JEL Classification: G33, K22, M41, M44

Suggested Citation

Meeks, Geoff and Meeks, J. G., Self-Fulfilling Prophecies of Failure: The Endogenous Balance Sheets of Distressed Companies (September 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=931096 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.931096

Geoff Meeks (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Judge Business School ( email )

Trumpington Street
Cambridge, CB2 1AG
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 1223 764226 (Phone)
+44 (0) 1223 339701 (Fax)

J. G. Tulip Meeks

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics and Politics ( email )

Austin Robinson Building
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 9DD
United Kingdom

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