What Do Firms Do with Cash Windfalls?


Blanchard, Olivier J, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, and Andrei Shleifer. 1994. “What Do Firms Do with Cash Windfalls?” Journal of Financial Economics 36 (3): 337-360.
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Suppose that a firm receives a cash windfall which does not change its investment opportunity set or, equivalently, its marginal Tobin’s Q. What will this firm do with the money? We provide empirical answers to this question using a sample of eleven firms with such windfalls in the form of a won or settled lawsuit. We examine a variety of decisions of the firm to shed light on alternative theories of corporate financing and investment. Our evidence is broadly inconsistent with the perfect capital markets model. The results need to be stretched considerably to fit the asymmetric information model in which managers act in the interest of shareholders. The evidence supports the agency model of managerial behavior, in which managers try to ensure the long-run survival and independence of the firms with themselves at the helm.


Reprinted in Michael J. Brennan ed., Empirical Corporate Finance, Edward Elgar Publishing Company, 2001.

Last updated on 08/02/2012