Decisions of capital structure in the presence of agency and collusive monopsony
Wallace, Gerald Leon
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The United States acute care hospital (ACH) market provides a unique environment in which to examine questions about market structure and performance. The ACHs operate in a mature market of health services that is highly regulated and has one dominant primary consumer of services. The uncharacteristic industry structure offers the opportunity to analyze pervasive agency relationships and capital structure issues in a new setting. In addition, the policies of the U.S. Government have created an environment in which tacit collusion is likely to flourish, which leads to market buyer power (monopsony, or buyers acting as one monopoly buyer). A key question is the extent to which monopsony and agency affect capital structure decisions. Agency is defined by Ross (1973, p.134) as a relationship formed between a principle and their agents, “when one, designated as the agent, acts for, on behalf of, or as representative for the other, designated the principal, in a particular domain of decision problems.” This thesis extends the agency framework provided by Jensen and Meckling (1976), along with the econometric understanding of monopsony in healthcare via tacit collusion, as suggested by Pauly (1998) and Sevilla (2005), and the research constraints of monopsony under an all-or-nothing contract, as outlined by Taylor (2003). Using data on ACHs from the period of 1995 to 2007 for approximately 5,000 ACHs, which was derived from the Medicare Cost Report and medical payments for a sub-population of 1,500, this research examines the determinants of capital structure in a distorted market. Building upon this initial analysis, the research seeks to examine the effects of market distortions upon free cash flow, and ultimately, capital structure. Two theories of distortion are presented that would affect free cash flow: The first is that of the agency cost of free cash flow and signaling, and the second is a theory of monopsony via tacit collusion between buyers. A model of the agency relationship between ACHs and the U.S. Government is proposed, promoting agency cost (signaling and the agency cost of free cash flows) as a causal relation with free cash flows and capital structure (Jensen & Meckling 1976; Jensen 1986). Empirical models of agency are constructed, examining the dependence on government business and the relation to the leverage (signaling) and free cash flows (agency cost of free cash flows) for ACHs. In addition, a complementary theory of capital structure determinant via market power (monopsony) is formulated, suggesting that monopsony conditions within the ACH market affect free cash flows and capital structure. The analysis provides a framework for understanding the environments in which ACHs operate and the strength of bargaining within the market. The research concludes with a review of the determinants of capital structure in light of the inefficiencies and distortions of the industry and the relationships observed.