Corporate Financial Policy: What Really Matters?
34 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2021 Last revised: 23 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 1, 2021
Reliable access to funding, as in Myers and Majluf (1984), is what really matters, but there are nontrivial indeterminacies in how such access is arranged and in the debt, cash-balance, and payout components of financial policy. These inferences are from a corporate “twins” comparison study of the financial policies of Henry Ford at Ford Motor Co. and Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. at General Motors Corp. The documented testimony of Ford and Sloan indicates that both focused on funding their business, with debt as a funding tool, not an element of an optimized leverage ratio. Their financial policies differ in five important respects, including (i) the use of debt versus large cash balances to meet funding needs and (ii) a commitment to paying large dividends versus a strong aversion to payouts. The data also point to the importance of the inability of managers to identify optimal policies with reliable precision.
Keywords: capital structure, payout policy, cash balances, corporate financial policy
JEL Classification: G32, G35
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation