The Capital Structure Puzzle: What Are We Missing?

Harry DeAngelo

An important piece of the capital structure puzzle has been missing, and it is not a contracting friction. It is recognition that managers do not have sufficient knowledge to optimize capital structure with any real precision. The literature critique in this paper (i) identifies the conceptual sources of the main empirical failures of the leading models of capital structure and (ii) shows how those failures can be repaired by taking into account imperfect managerial knowledge and several other factors. The analysis yields a compact set of principles for thinking about capital structure in an empirically supported way.