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Capital Structure and the Informational Role of Debt

Milton Harris and Artur Raviv
The Journal of Finance
Vol. 45, No. 2 (Jun., 1990), pp. 321-349
Published by: Wiley for the American Finance Association
DOI: 10.2307/2328660
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2328660
Page Count: 29
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Capital Structure and the Informational Role of Debt
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Abstract

This paper provides a theory of capital structure based on the effect of debt on investors' information about the firm and on their ability to oversee management. We postulate that managers are reluctant to relinquish control and unwilling to provide information that could result in such an outcome. Debt is a disciplining device because default allows creditors the option to force the firm into liquidation and generates information useful to investors. We characterize the time path of the debt level and obtain comparative statics results on the debt level, bond yield, probability of default, probability of reorganization, etc.

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