NBER Working Papers by Michael R. Roberts

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Working Papers

October 2014How Does Government Borrowing Affect Corporate Financing and Investment?
with John Graham, Mark T. Leary: w20581
Using a novel dataset of accounting and market information that spans most publicly traded nonfinancial firms over the last century, we show that U.S. federal government debt issuance significantly affects corporate financial policies and balance sheets through its impact on investors' portfolio allocations and the relative pricing of different assets. Government debt is strongly negatively correlated with corporate debt and investment, but strongly positively correlated with corporate liquidity. These relations are more pronounced in larger, less risky firms whose debt is a closer substitute for Treasuries. Indeed, we find a strong negative relation between the BAA-AAA yield spread and government debt, highlighting the greater sensitivity of more highly rated credit to variation in the su...
September 2014The Role of Dynamic Renegotiation and Asymmetric Information in Financial Contracting
Using data from SEC filings, I show that the typical bank loan is renegotiated five times, or every nine months. The pricing, maturity, amount, and covenants are all significantly modified during each renegotiation, whose timing is governed by the financial health of the contracting parties and uncertainty regarding the borrowers' credit quality. The relative importance of these factors depends on the duration of the lending relationship. I interpret these results in light of financial contracting theories and emphasize that renegotiation is an important mechanism for dynamically completing contracts and for allocating control rights ex post.
February 2014A Century of Capital Structure: The Leveraging of Corporate America
with John Graham, Mark T. Leary: w19910
Unregulated U.S. corporations dramatically increased their debt usage over the past century. Aggregate leverage - low and stable before 1945 - more than tripled between 1945 and 1970 from 11% to 35%, eventually reaching 47% by the early 1990s. The median firm in 1946 had no debt, but by 1970 had a leverage ratio of 31%. This increase occurred in all unregulated industries and affected firms of all sizes. Changing firm characteristics are unable to account for this increase. Rather, changes in government borrowing, macroeconomic uncertainty, and financial sector development play a more prominent role. Despite this increase among unregulated firms, a combination of stable debt usage among regulated firms and a decrease in the fraction of aggregate assets held by regulated firms over this per...

Forthcoming: A Century of Capital Structure: The Leveraging of Corporate America, John R. Graham, Mark T. Leary, Michael R. Roberts. in Understanding the Capital Structures of Non-Financial and Financial Corporations, Acharya, Almeida, and Baker. 2014

July 2004On the Importance of Measuring Payout Yield: Implications for Empirical Asset Pricing
with Jacob Boudoukh, Roni Michaely, Matthew Richardson: w10651
Previous research showed that the dividend price ratio process changed remarkably during the 1980's and 1990's, but that the total payout ratio (dividends plus repurchases over price) changed very little. We investigate implications of this difference for asset pricing models. In particular, the widely documented decline in the predictive power of dividends for excess stock returns in time series regressions in recent data is vastly overstated. Statistically and economically significant predictability is found at both short and long horizons when total payout yield is used instead of dividend yield. We also provide evidence that total payout yield has information in the cross-section for expected stock returns exceeding that of dividend yield and that the high minus low payout yield portfo...

Published: Jacob Boudoukh & Roni Michaely & Matthew Richardson & Michael R. Roberts, 2007. "On the Importance of Measuring Payout Yield: Implications for Empirical Asset Pricing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(2), pages 877-915, 04. citation courtesy of

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers onlyInformation about this author at RePEc

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