NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Macroeconomic Conditions and the Puzzles of Credit Spreads and Capital Structure

Hui Chen

NBER Working Paper No. 16151
Issued in July 2010
NBER Program(s):   AP

I build a dynamic capital structure model that demonstrates how business-cycle variations in expected growth rates, economic uncertainty, and risk premia influence firms' financing and default policies. Countercyclical fluctuations in risk prices, default probabilities, and default losses arise endogenously through firms' responses to the macroeconomic conditions. These comovements generate large credit risk premia for investment grade firms, which helps address the "credit spread puzzle" and "under-leverage puzzle" in a unified framework. The model generates interesting dynamics for financing and defaults, including "credit contagion" and market timing of debt issuance. It also provides a novel procedure to estimate state-dependent default losses.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16151

Published: Hui Chen, 2010. "Macroeconomic Conditions and the Puzzles of Credit Spreads and Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(6), pages 2171-2212, December.

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