Similarity in Bond Covenants
67 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2013 Last revised: 2 Jul 2016
Date Written: April 14, 2016
We examine the economic consequences associated with the inclusion of covenants with similar levels of restrictiveness in bond contracts. Using a unique Moody’s dataset on the quality of bond covenants, we develop measures that capture similarity in bond covenant terms by comparing the restrictiveness of a bond’s covenants with the covenant restrictiveness of previously issued peer bonds. Consistent with similarity in covenants reducing bondholders’ contracting and comparability costs, we document that bonds with more similar covenant restrictiveness receive significantly lower yields at issuance. These bonds are also characterized by greater liquidity in the secondary market and are more likely to be held by long-term bond investors, such as insurance companies. Our results highlight the benefits of covenant similarity and suggest that the use of covenants with similar restrictiveness levels brings contracting and comparability cost savings that may be larger than the monitoring benefits provided by covenants with more tailored credit protection.
Keywords: Covenants, Covenant Restrictiveness, Comparability, Similarity, Bond Yields
JEL Classification: G12, G14, G32, M49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation