Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Financial Economics


Economics and Finance

Major Professor

Krishnaswami, Sudha

Second Advisor

Naka, Atsuyuki

Third Advisor

Whitney, Gerald

Fourth Advisor

D'Mello, Ranjan

Fifth Advisor

Mukherjee, Tarun


Tests of the static trade-off theory that posits that firms move towards the optimum capital structure necessitate a joint hypothesis test - whether firms adjust toward target leverage, and whether the proxy used for target leverage is the true target leverage. Prior studies use the time-series mean leverage for each firm, the industry median leverage, an estimated cross-sectional leverage, and a tobit estimated leverage using the factors suggested by the static trade-off theory as proxies for the target leverage. In this dissertation, I examine whether these proxies are equivalent and test the consistency of the proxies with the theorized behavior of the true target leverage. My results indicate that the four proxies we examine have significantly different distributions and this holds across most industries. Further, the industry median leverage is the proxy which best exhibits behavior consistent with the true target leverage. Firm value is higher for firms closer to the industry median and lower for firms away from the industry median. A robustness check using Kmeans cluster analysis confirms the superiority of the industry median leverage over the other proxies of target leverage. This study complements the previous studies on the pecking order theory and the trade-off theory. The main purpose of this study is to investigate three issues that are not considered in the previous studies. The adequacy of the specification and the assumptions of the models used in testing the trade-off and the pecking order theory. The second issue examined in this study is the validity to putting the pecking order and the trade-off theories in a horse race. The final issue examined in this study is the factors driving firms to issue (repurchase) debt or equity or combination of both and simultaneously the factors affecting the size of issue (repurchase)


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