Sharon P. Katz
Associate Professor of Accounting and Control
This paper examines the relationship between debt contracts and state contract law. The authors first develop an index to evaluate whether each state’s law is favorable or unfavorable to lenders. The authors then analyze how the contract terms, the frequency of covenant violations, and the repercussions of covenant violations vary across states.The authors find that cash collateral is most likely to be used when the contract is governed by law that is favorable to debtors and that out-of-state borrowers who use favorable law pay higher yield spreads. In addition, when the law is favorable to lenders, there are significantly fewer covenant violations, and the repercussions of covenant violations — measured as changes in the borrower’s investment policy — are more severe.We also compare the characteristics of relevant parties across states, and the results provide support for the theory that there is a market for contracts similar to the market for incorporations.