Effects of macroeconomic uncertainty on leverage for US non-financial firms
In this paper, we investigate the link between optimal level of leverage and macroeconomic uncertainty. Using the model of firm's value maximization, we show that as macroeconomic uncertainty increases, captured by an increase in the variability of industrial production or inflation, firms decrease their optimal levels of borrowing. We test this prediction on a panel of non-financial US firms drawn from the annual COMPUSTAT quarterly database covering the period 1990-2000 and find that as macroeconomic uncertainty increases, firms behave to decrease their levels of leverage. Our results are robust with respect to the inclusion of macroeconomic factors, such as interest rate, inflation, and index of leading indicators.
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