Winston Wei Dou

Feedback and Contagion through Distressed Competition

Joint with Hui Chen, Hongye Guo, Yan Ji

Journal of Finance Revise and Resubmit, September 2020

Firms tend to compete more aggressively in financial distress; the intensified competition in turn reduces profit margins for everyone, pushing some further into distress. To study such feedback and contagion effects, we incorporate dynamic strategic competition into an industry equilibrium with long-term defaultable debt, which generates various peer interactions: predation, self-defense, and collaboration. Such interactions make cash flows, stock returns, and credit spreads interdependent across firms. Moreover, industries with higher idiosyncratic-jump risks are more distressed, yet also endogenously less exposed to aggregate shocks. Finally, we exploit exogenous variations in market structure -- large tariff cuts -- to test the core competition mechanism.