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ABSTRACT

This study conducts tests of the pecking order theory using an international sample with more than 6000 firms over the period from 1995 to 2005. The high correlation between net equity issuances and the financing deficit discredits the static pecking order theory. Rather than analyzing the predictions of the theory, we test its core assumption that information asymmetry is an important determinant of capital structure decisions. Our empirical results support the dynamic pecking order theory and its two testable implications. First, the probability of issuing equity increases with less pronounced firm-level information asymmetry. Second, firms exploit windows of opportunity by making relatively larger equity issuances and build up cash reserves (slack) after declines in firm-level information asymmetry. Firms from common law countries use parts of their proceeds from an equity issuance to redeem debt and to rebalance their capital structure. These findings are consistent with a time-varying adverse selection explanation of firms' financing decisions.