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Leverage and Varying Metrics of Firm Performance

By Preston Jiateng Huang

This paper sets out to examine the effect of leverage on company performance. Drawing on the methodology of key prior research, this study finds that leverage has a consistent negative effect on firm growth; by contrast, no such negative impact was found on return on equity. Importantly, such patterns hold throughout the entire period under study (1970-2017), during which several disruptive economic events have occurred. These results highlight the importance of selecting appropriate company performance measures when studying the effect of debt load on a firm as well as the misalignment of incentives for policymakers and company management. Other implications are also discussed.

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Advisor: Professor Kyle Jurado | JEL Codes: G24; G31; G32

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