Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2014

Corporate Financial Policies in Misvalued Credit Markets

by Jarrad Harford, Marc Martos-Vila and Matthew Rhodes-Kropf

Abstract

We theoretically and empirically investigate the repercussions of credit market misvaluation for a firm's borrowing and investment decisions. Using an ex-post measure of the accuracy of credit ratings to capture debt market misvaluation, we find evidence that firms take advantage of inaccuracies by issuing more debt and increasing leverage. The result goes beyond a wealth transfer and has real investment implications: approximately 75% of the debt issuance funds increased capital expenditures and cash acquisitions. In the cross section, misvaluation affects financially constrained firms the most, supporting the theoretical prediction that debt overvaluation loosens financial constraints.

Citation:

Harford, Jarrad, Marc Martos-Vila, and Matthew Rhodes-Kropf. "Corporate Financial Policies in Misvalued Credit Markets." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-097, April 2014.