Financial crises, debt overhang, and firm growth in transition economies

Marco Botta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We examine the effects of the global financial crisis of 2008 and the European debt crisis of 2011 on the relationship between capital structure, investments, and performance for Eastern European companies. While the existing literature documents how firms’ investments are sensitive to the availability of internal funds and to debt holdings, we further investigate whether this investment sensitivity also translates in different levels of performance, and document that capital structure indeed has both a direct and an indirect effect, mediated by the capital expenditure channel. We show that firms with higher financial flexibility experience higher investments and returns on capital. Over-levered firms instead suffer from a debt overhang condition, forcing them to curb investments, and consequently experiencing lower performance. Overall, we provide evidence on the importance of capital structure and financial flexibility on investments and performance, showing the real consequences of the debt overhang condition on firm value creation. Firms should therefore aim at maintaining adequate financial flexibility in order to be able to pursue future profitable investment opportunities, and avoid the under-investment problem arising from a debt overhang situation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalApplied Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Capital structure
  • Debt overhang
  • Financial crises
  • Financial flexibility
  • Firm performance


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