Using an international dataset, we examine the role of issuers’ credit ratings in explaining corporate leverage and the speed with which firms adjust toward their optimal level of leverage. We find that, in countries with a more market-oriented financial system, the impact of credit ratings on firms’ capital structure is more significant and that firms with a poorer credit rating adjust more rapidly. Furthermore, our results show some striking differences in the speed of adjusting capital structure between firms rated as speculative and investment grade, with the former adjusting much more rapidly. As hypothesized, those differences are statistically significant only for firms based in a more market-oriented economy.
- capital structure; credit ratings; speed of adjustment