University of Southern California
Marshall School of Business
701 Exposition Blvd., Ste. 231
Los Angeles, CA 90089
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|November 2016||Corporate Deleveraging|
with Andrei S. Gonçalves, René M. Stulz: w22828
Proactive deleveraging from all-time peak market leverage (ML) to near-zero ML and negative net debt is the norm among 4,476 nonfinancial firms with five or more years of post-peak data. ML is 0.543 at the historical peak and 0.026 at the later trough for the median firm in this sample, with a six-year median time from peak to trough. These deleveraging episodes are largely proactive, with debt repayment and earnings retention accounting for 93.7% of the peak-to-trough decline in ML for the median firm. Attenuated deleveraging, with ML staying well above zero, is the norm at 3,118 firms that are delisted due to financial distress within four years of peak. Leverage is path dependent, with the key to explaining whether ML is high or low at the post-peak trough being how high it was at the p...
|June 2013||Why High Leverage is Optimal for Banks|
with René M. Stulz: w19139
Liquidity production is a central role of banks. We show that, under idealized conditions, high leverage is optimal for banks when there is a market premium for (socially valuable) liquid financial claims and no deviations from Modigliani and Miller (1958) due to agency problems, deposit insurance, taxes, or any other distortions. Our model can explain (i) why bank leverage increased over the last 150 years or so, (ii) why high bank leverage per se does not necessarily cause systemic risk, and (iii) why limits on the leverage of regulated banks impede their ability to compete with unregulated shadow banks. Our model indicates that MM's debt-equity neutrality principle is inapplicable to banks. Because debt-equity neutrality assigns zero weight to the social value of liquidity, it is an ina...
|July 2007||Fundamentals, Market Timing, and Seasoned Equity Offerings|
with Linda DeAngelo, René M. Stulz: w13285
Firms conduct SEOs to resolve a near-term liquidity squeeze, and not primarily to exploit market timing opportunities. Without the SEO proceeds, 62.6% of issuers would have insufficient cash to implement their chosen operating and non-SEO financing decisions the year after the SEO. Although the SEO decision is positively related to a firm's market-to-book (M/B) ratio and prior excess stock return and negatively related to its future excess return, these relations are economically immaterial. For example, a 150% swing in future net of market stock returns (from a 75% gain to a 75% loss over three years) increases by only 1% the probability of an SEO in the immediately prior year. Strikingly, most firms with quintessential "market timer" characteristics fail to issue stock and a non-trivial ...
|July 2004||Dividend Policy, Agency Costs, and Earned Equity|
with Linda DeAngelo, Rene Stulz: w10599
Why do firms pay dividends? If they didn't their asset and capital structures would eventually become untenable as the earnings of successful firms outstrip their investment opportunities. Had they not paid dividends, the 25 largest long-standing 2002 dividend payers would have cash holdings of $1.8 trillion (51% of total assets), up from $160 billion (6% of assets), and $1.2 trillion in excess of their collective $600 billion in long-term debt. Their dividend payments prevented significant agency problems since the retention of earnings would have given managers command over an additional $1.6 trillion without access to better investment opportunities and with no additional monitoring. This logic suggests that firms with relatively high amounts of earned equity (retained earnings) are esp...
Published: DeAngelo, Harry, Linda DeAngelo and Rene Stulz. “Dividend policy and the earned/contributed capital mix: a test of the life-cycle theory.” Journal of Financial Economics 81, 2 (2006): 227-254.