Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 0440: The Dynamics of Capital Structure: Evidence from Swedish Micro and Small Firms

Almas Heshmati ()
Additional contact information
Almas Heshmati: Dept. of Economic Statistics, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: P.O. Box 6501, S-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Capital structure studies have generally been aimed at studying the determinants of optimal leverage. Empirically, the focus is, however, on studying the association between observed leverage and a set of explanatory variables. This approach has a number of shortcomings. First, the observed leverage deviates from the optimal leverage. Second, the empirical analyses are static. Third, adjustments are non-constant. In this paper, we formulate a dynamic adjustment model. We specify and estimate the unobservable optimal capital structure using observable determinants. The optimal level varies, allowing for deviations of observed leverage from optimal leverage. This model is specified such that the speed of adjustment towards the optimal level is firm- and time-specific. Identification of determinants and estimation of the level of optimal capital structure and speed of adjustment allow for flexible determination and adjustment of the effective level of capital structure. Empirical analysis is based on a large sample of Swedish micro and small firms. We find that the observed capital structure exceeds the target, and that adjustment towards the target level is very slow.

Keywords: Capital structure; dynamic adjustment; optimal leverage; micro and firms

JEL-codes: C23; C51; G32

36 pages, April 2, 2001

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