The aim of this paper is to analyse the speed of adjustment of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the target leverage. By applying a system GMM technique to Spanish panel data collected during the period 1995–2005, we estimate a partial adjustment model in which both target leverage and speed of adjustment are simultaneously endogenized. We provide empirical evidence on the determinants of target leverage and the speed of adjustment. More specifically, the rate of financial flexibility, growth opportunities and size are positively related to the speed of adjustment, whereas the distance to the optimal ratio of debt shows a negative impact. Our findings demonstrate that, in terms of sample mean, a high percentage of Spanish SMEs adjust rationally to their target. Additionally, the SMEs analysed appeared to be over-levered and fairly motivated to adjust (annual adjustment speed: 26%).
Small Business Economics – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 2, 2011
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