Skip to main content

Please enter a keyword and click the arrow to search the site

A theory of debt market liquidity and leverage cyclicality


Review of Financial Studies



Authors / Editors

Hennessy C;Zechner J

Publication Year



We analyze determinants of secondary debt market liquidity, identifying conditions under which a large investor can profitably buy stakes from small bondholders and offer unilateral debt relief to a distressed firm. We show that endogenous trading by small bondholders may result in multiple equilibria. Some equilibria entail vanishing liquidity and sharp increases in yields absent changing fundamentals. In turn, anticipation of illiquid equilibria induces firms to eschew public debt financing, since such equilibria create higher bankruptcy costs and debt illiquidity discounts. The model thus offers a rational micro-foundation for stylized facts commonly attributed to investor sentiment and CFO market timing. Finally, we show that the vulnerability of debt markets to multiple equilibria is highest during downturns, when small bondholders face severe adverse selection.

Available on ECCH


Select up to 4 programmes to compare

Select one more to compare
subscribe_image_desktop 5949B9BFE33243D782D1C7A17E3345D0

Sign up to receive our latest news and business thinking direct to your inbox