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Exploring the Decline in Trade Credit Investment

Author:
Harris, Chris   Roark, Scott   Johnson, DonT   


Journal:
Managerial Finance


Issue Date:
2017


Abstract(summary):

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to identify three factors leading to the observed decline in trade credit offered from publicly traded firms. Design/methodology/approach - The study conducts firm fixed effect regressions testing the relationship between cash flow volatility and firm investment in trade credit. The relationship is further examined with all firms separated into two groups, based on SIC codes, designating if they are in industries that traditionally offer higher amounts of trade credit. Findings - The proportion of US firms that has traditionally extended the most trade credit has been decreasing over time, contributing to part of the decline in trade credit offered. Increases in cash flow volatility have also contributed to decreasing investment in trade credit. The negative relationship with cash flow volatility is greatest amongst firms that traditionally place the highest value on trade credit. Firms with access to credit, proxied by investment grade debt ratings, do not experience the same decline in trade credit offered. Practical implications - Firms that value the ability to extend trade credit may maintain their level of investment in trade credit, even with increased risk of cash flow volatility, by maintaining a comparative advantage in access to credit. Originality/value - This study extends prior findings by providing three previously unexplored explanations for the decline in offered trade credit seen in the USA. The changing make-up of publicly traded firms, a market-wide increase in cash flow volatility, and access to credit all play an important role in observed declines of trade credit investment.


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