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Capital investment and earnings: International evidence

Capital investment and earnings: International evidence
Inci A.C.Lee B.S.Suh J.
Ewha Authors
Issue Date
Journal Title
Corporate Governance
0964-8410JCR Link
vol. 17, no. 5, pp. 526 - 545
Manuscript Type: Empirical Research Question/Issue: We examine the nature of the dynamic linkage (causality) between earnings and capital investment using firm-level data from around the world to see whether the legal environment, including corporate governance and monitoring mechanisms, and financial development are important in the profitability of capital investment. Research Findings/Insights: Using firms in 40 countries over the period 1988-2004, we find that the causality from earnings to capital investment is positive and strong in almost all countries, irrespective of the type of legal system and the degree of financial development. However, the causality from capital investment to earnings is generally negative for firms in civil law and financially undeveloped countries, while the causality is generally positive in common law and financially developed countries. Therefore, our international cross-country study enables us to find that the legal system and financial development are factors in the determination of the profitability of capital investment. Theoretical/Academic Implications: Our findings imply that internal financing is a significant constraint for capital investment, which provides support for the pecking order theory even for financially developed markets and for the free cash flow theory. Common law and financially developed countries tend to provide better shareholder protection with more efficient corporate governance and better investment decisions. Practitioner/Policy Implications: To encourage managers to make capital investments in value-increasing projects, it is important to further improve a legal environment that includes corporate governance, monitoring, and incentive mechanisms. Financial development that includes effective financial regulatory agencies should be sought. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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