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Insolvency Regimes and Firms' Default Risk Under Economic Uncertainty and Shocks

Gopalakrishnan, Balagopal and Mohapatra, Sanket (2019): Insolvency Regimes and Firms' Default Risk Under Economic Uncertainty and Shocks.

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One of the arguments often advanced for implementing a stronger insolvency and bankruptcy framework is that it enhances credit discipline among firms. Using a large cross-country firm-level dataset, we empirically test whether a stronger insolvency regime reduces firms' likelihood of defaulting on their debt. In particular, we examine whether it reduces default risk during increased economic uncertainty and various external shocks. Our results confirm that a stronger insolvency regime moderates the adverse effects of economic shocks on firms' default risk. The effects are more pronounced for firms in the top half of the size distribution. We also explore channels through which improved creditor rights influence firms’ default risk, including dependence on external finance, corporate leverage, and managerial ethics. Our main results are robust to an alternative measure of default risk, inclusion of currency and sovereign debt crisis episodes, and alternative estimations.

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