Does industry-wide distress affect defaulted firms? Evidence from creditor recoveries

Viral V. Acharya, Sreedhar T. Bharath, Anand Srinivasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

306 Scopus citations


Using data on defaulted firms in the United States over the period 1982-1999, we show that creditors of defaulted firms recover significantly lower amounts in present-value terms when the industry of defaulted firms is in distress. We investigate whether this is purely an economic-downturn effect or also a fire-sales effect along the lines of Shleifer and Vishny [1992. Liquidation values and debt capacity: a market equilibrium approach. Journal of Finance 47, 1343-1366]. We find the fire-sales effect to be also at work: Creditors recover less if the industry is in distress and non-defaulted firms in the industry are illiquid, particularly if the industry is characterized by assets that are specific, that is, not easily redeployable by other industries, and if the debt is collateralized by such specific assets. The interaction effect of industry-level distress and asset-specificity is strongest for senior unsecured creditors, is economically significant, and robust to contract-specific, firm-specific, macroeconomic, and bond-market supply effects. We also document that defaulted firms in distressed industries are more likely to emerge as restructured firms than to be acquired or liquidated, and spend longer time in bankruptcy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-821
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Financial Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Asset specificity
  • Bankruptcy
  • Credit risk
  • Illiquidity
  • Loss given default

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management


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