This paper examines the effect of debt and liquidity on corporate investment in a continuous-time dynamic framework. We show that due to stockholder-bondholder agency conflicts, investment thresholds are U-shaped in leverage and decreasing in liquidity. While the underinvestment problem dominates for low-liquidity firms, there is overinvestment for high-liquidity firms. In the absence of tax effects, we derive the optimal level of liquid funds that eliminates agency costs by implementing the first-best investment policy for some given capital structure. In a second step we generalize the framework by introducing a tax advantage of debt, and we show that an interior solution for liquidity and capital structure optimally trades off tax benefits and agency costs of debt.
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The 20th Australasian Finance and Banking Conference, 2007