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The Design of Bankruptcy Law: A Case for Management Bias in Bankruptcy Reorganizations

  • Elazar Berkovitch (a1), Ronen Israel (a2) and Jaime F. Zender (a3)

In an incomplete contracting environment, bankruptcy is considered to be a renegotiation of the firm's financial contracts. An optimal bankruptcy law is derived as optimal restrictions on the environment within which the claimants to a distressed firm bargain. The law is used as a commitment device to ensure actions that are ex ante optimal but not subgame perfect. We show that the bankruptcy court can use two types of mechanisms to implement the optimal bankruptcy outcome: direct restrictions on the bargaining game between the claimants, and the use of a “restricted auction.” In both cases, the restrictions prevent the strategic use of bankruptcy by firms not in financial distress, provide for truthful revelation of information so that distress results in an ex post efficient allocation of resources, and establish a bias toward the manager in reorganizations that provides correct ex ante decision making incentives.

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Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis
  • ISSN: 0022-1090
  • EISSN: 1756-6916
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