According to current U.S. law, firms have two bankruptcy options: Chapter 7 liquidation and Chapter 11 reorganization. Using Compustat data, the authors first document capital structure and investment decisions of non-bankrupt, Chapter 11, and Chapter 7 firms. Using those data moments, they then estimate parameters of a firm dynamics model with endogenous entry and exit to include both bankruptcy options in a general equilibrium environment. Finally, the authors evaluate a bankruptcy policy change recommended by the American Bankruptcy Institute that amounts to a "fresh start" for bankrupt firms. The authors find that changes to the law can have sizable consequences for borrowing costs and capital structure, which via selection affects productivity (allocative efficiency rises by 2.58%) and welfare (rises by 0.54%).
Reorganization or Liquidation: Bankruptcy Choice and Firm Dynamics
WP 17-14 - In this paper, the authors ask how bankruptcy law affects the financial decisions of corporations and its implications for firm dynamics.