In this paper we examine how financial constraints, especially fluctuations in the supply of credit, affect the capital structure of 1537 publicly listed Japanese firms from 1980 to 2007, in a data set with 33,000 observations. It is one of the first studies to do so and is inspired by the recent studies of Leary (2009) and Faulkender and Petersen (2006). Japan was selected due to the extreme credit supply fluctuations observed during the last 30 years. It thus offers an ideal natural experiment to test the impact of credit supply on corporate capital structure. In particular, in our panel data study we investigated the impact of the asset bubble in the 1980s and the credit crunch of the late 1990s on corporate capital structure decisions. The results of this paper show, among other findings, that financial policy decisions are indeed influenced by monetary conditions and the supply of credit. In particular, smaller sized firms face financial constraints, especially during economic downturn
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