School of Economics

2017 Discussion papers

School of Economics Discussion Paper 17/16

Disputes, Debt and Equity

Alfred Duncan, University of Kent
Charles Nolan, University of Glasgow

July 2017


We show how the prospect of disputes over firms’ revenue reports promotes debt financing over equity. These findings are presented within a costly state verification model with a risk averse entrepreneur. The prospect of disputes encourages incentive contracts that limit penalties and avoid stochastic monitoring, even when the lender can commit to stochastic monitoring strategies. Consequently, optimal contracts shift away from equity and toward standard debt. For a useful special case of the model, closed form solutions are presented for leverage and consumption allocations under efficient debt contracts. Some empirical implications of the theory are pursued.

JEL Classification: D52; D53; D82; D86

Keywords: Microeconomics, costly state verification; external finance; leverage

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Last Updated: 06/11/2017