(Debt) Overhang: Evidence from Resource Extraction
Wittry, Michael David
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I study the empirical importance of debt overhang using a unique dataset on resource extraction firms, which provides ex ante measures of investment opportunities and important variation in the terms of a firm's obligations. In particular, unsecured reclamation liabilities create overhang that is costly to resolve and induces firms to forgo and postpone positive NPV investments. Traditional debt, in contrast, imposes few overhang-related investment distortions. These results show that: (i) the overhang problem is potentially large and applies more broadly to a firm's non-debt liabilities; and (ii) overhang problems associated with traditional debt can be avoided through contracting and debt composition.
- Business administration