Estimating Risk-Adjusted Costs of Financial Distress.

Heitor Almeida, Thomas Philippon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The search for the optimal, or value-maximizing, capital structure involves weighing the expected benefits of higher leverage against the expected “costs of financial distress.” These costs include not only the direct costs of reorganization, but less quantifiable effects of financial trouble such as damage to the firm's reputation, the loss of key employees and customers, and the loss of value from forgone investment opportunities. This article proposes a new method for valuing expected financial distress costs. While researchers have provided estimates of the costs associated with financial distress when it takes place, whether or when these costs will be incurred is, of course, unknown at the time the financing decision. As a result, the “correct” discount rate for valuing expected distress costs is difficult to derive. Instead of adjusting the discount rate to reflect historical default rate probabilities, the authors' method uses “risk-neutral” probabilities of encountering distr)
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105 - 109
JournalJournal of Applied Corporate Finance
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008


  • Corporate finance, Corporate banking, Financial crises, Cost, Discount


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