Abstract

We use a dynamic model of financing decisions to measure agency conflicts for a large panel of 12,652 firms from 14 countries. Our estimates show that agency conflicts are large and vary significantly across firms and countries. Differences in agency conflicts are largely due to differences in firm-level governance, ownership concentration, and other firm characteristics, including intangibles and cash. The origin of law is more relevant for curtailing governance excesses than for guarding the typical firm. Agency costs split about equally between wealth transfers and value losses from policy distortions, the latter being smaller in civil law countries where ownership is more concentrated.

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