Corporate Cash and Political Uncertainty

62 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2018 Last revised: 15 Dec 2020

See all articles by Candace Jens

Candace Jens

Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business

T. Beau Page

Government of the United States of America - Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

Date Written: December 15, 2020

Abstract

How does political uncertainty affect firms’ saving? We incorporate election uncertainty into a dynamic model of firm investment and saving. Our model predicts that firms build up pre-election cash balances and, because cost of capital is high when uncertainty is high, begin to rely on this cash before elections resolve uncertainty. We find strong support for our predictions in our data and show that firms save an extra quarter’s worth of cash before elections. This saving reflects substantial heterogeneity in firms’ available sources of funding, so that changes to no one source of cash explains firms’ aggregate pre-election saving. Firms that can cheaply raise internal funds by, for example, retaining cash flow or decreasing payout do so. Other firms that rely on external equity markets to raise cash adjust the timing and magnitude of issuances to avoid higher financing costs around elections. Their willingness to rely on expensive equity issuance before elections is evidence of the importance of political uncertainty to firms’ saving decisions.

Keywords: corporate saving, cash, political uncertainty, gubernatorial elections, economic policy uncertainty

JEL Classification: D72, G31, E21

Suggested Citation

Jens, Candace and Page, Beau, Corporate Cash and Political Uncertainty (December 15, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3094415 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3094415

Candace Jens (Contact Author)

Tulane University - A.B. Freeman School of Business ( email )

7 McAlister Drive
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

Beau Page

Government of the United States of America - Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) ( email )

400 7th Street SW
Washington, DC 20219
United States

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