Challenges of Contemporary Economics


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Volume 8 Issue 4 (2014)

Homo Oeconomicus and Behavioral Economics original article

pp. 353-364 | First published in 28 December 2014 | DOI:10.5709/ce.1897-9254.150

Justyna Brzezicka, Radosław Wisniewski


Recent years have witnessed a growing interest in behavioral trends in both economic theory and practical applications. As a science with vast potential for explaining complex market behaviors, behavioral economics is drifting away from the classical model of homo oeconomicus deployed by mainstream economics. This paper discusses the significance and role of the homo oeconomicus model in light of behavioral economics. It analyzes the direction of changes affecting homo oeconomicus, examines the definition of anomalies within the context of behavioral economics and discusses the anomalous status of homo oeconomicus. The paper proposes a hypothesis that the attitude characterizing homo oeconomicus is unique and incidental. The presented interdisciplinary analysis relies on economics, behavioral economics, economic psychology, behavioral finance and the methodology of science to discuss the homo oeconomicus model. The paper reviews change trends in economics, which are largely propelled by advancements in behavioral economics. The key methodological tools deployed in this paper are theoretical analysis and a compilation of extensive research findings. The results were used to formulate new theories advocating the development of a modern approach to the homo oeconomicus model, recognizing its significance and the growing importance of behavioral economics.

Keywords: behavioral economics; homo oeconomicus; economic man; real man

An alternative test of the trade-off theory of capital structure original article

pp. 365-386 | First published in 28 December 2014 | DOI:10.5709/ce.1897-9254.151

Giorgio Canarella, Mahmoud Nourayi, Michael J. Sullivan


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the stochastic behavior of corporate debt ratios utilizing a balanced panel of 2,556 publicly traded U.S. firms during the period 1997-2010. We partition the panel into ten economic sectors and perform panel unit root tests on each sector employing book value and market value measures of debt ratio. First-generation panel unit root tests provide consistent evidence that debt ratios are mean reverting, which supports the trade-off theory. However, these tests rely on the assumption that the debt ratios are cross-sectionally independent, but tests of cross-sectional independence fail to uphold this assumption. Thus, utilizing a second-generation panel unit root test that controls for cross-sectional dependence, we uncover evidence showing that debt ratios are not mean reverting, which contradicts the trade-off hypothesis. We find that the recent macroeconomic developments triggered by the financial crisis and the Great Recession have considerable explanatory power over the dynamics of the debt ratios. In fact, when we exclude the years of the recent global financial crisis, the unit root hypothesis is rejected in one half of the sectors. We interpret these results as indicative that the recent global events may have produced in these sectors a structural change in the underlying data generation process (DGP). Overall, then, we find mixed evidence on the stationarity of debt ratios.

Keywords: panel unit root tests; capital structure theories; cross-sectional dependence; debt ratio

Break-even maturity as a guide to financial distress original article

pp. 387-396 | First published in 28 December 2014 | DOI:10.5709/ce.1897-9254.152

Colin Ellis


During the recent crisis, lags in the transmission mechanism of economic shocks, together with monetary and fiscal policy, made it difficult to assess the evolving dynamics of creditworthiness. As such, developments in financial markets became a key guide for investors and policymakers in determining the degree of financial distress that borrowers faced, providing a real-time update of market participants’ views. However, simple measures of borrowing costs such as secondary market yields typically ignore differences in debt maturities and hence refinancing risks. This paper describes a new indicator of financial distress – the break-even maturity – that combines these factors. Using financial market data for euro area countries, the break-even maturity is shown to provide an alternative perspective on the absolute and relative risks associated with different borrowers that is distinct from the standard metrics gleaned from bond yields or credit-default swaps. As such, while break-even maturities are ultimately theoretical constructs, they can offer a valuable alternative perspective on how the financing pressures facing distressed borrowers are evolving in real-time.

Keywords: financial markets; bond yields; funding cost

Factors Influencing Risk Management Decision of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in Ghana original article

pp. 397-414 | First published in 28 December 2014 | DOI:10.5709/ce.1897-9254.153

Anselm Komla Abotsi, Gershon Yawo Dake, Richard Abankwa Agyepong


This research seeks to study the factors that enhance or preclude owners of SMEs in Ghana in making risk management decisions. The study was conducted with managers of SMEs in four regions in Ghana. The researchers adopted a quantitative approach and employed STATA 10 and SPSS version 20 in the analysis. Stratified and simple random sampling techniques were used to select the sample units. The probit model was used in the analysis of data. A total of 447 SMEs were sampled for the study, with at least 111 from each of the selected regions. The probit results show that the demographic factors indicate a positive influence on the likelihood that managers will take risk management decisions. All of the business related demographic factors are significant at various levels and positive, except for risk-loving. The economically related factors, such as the estimated amount at risk, the estimated cost of risk management and the estimated total monthly income after tax all have a positive influence on risk management decision making. However, government and tax policies are perceived to negatively influence risk management decisions by managers. We recommend that institutions working closely with SMEs acquire the expertise to train the managers of SMEs on risk management practices.

Keywords: knowledge of risk management; small and medium scale enterprises; government and tax policies; risk management decision

On the Relative Importance of Corporate Working Capital Determinants: Findings from the EU Countries original article

pp. 415-434 | First published in 28 December 2014 | DOI:10.5709/ce.1897-9254.154

Julia Koralun-Bereźnicka


The corporate finance literature traditionally abounds in both theoretical discussion and empirical research concerning financing and long-term investment decisions. Managing short-term resources appears to be a much less remarkable issue, despite this resource’s significant share of a firm’s balance sheet and the time and effort required to manage the current assets and liabilities. This article provides insights into the relative importance of the selected working capital determinants from the European Union perspective. The determinants considered in the study include both external and internal factors, specifically the country in which a company operates, its industrial classification and the firm size. Using more than 10,000 aggregated observations from a sample of firms from 13 industries, 9 countries and 3 group sizes, covering the period 2000-2009, the findings provide evidence that corporate working capital is most affected by country-specific factors, followed by industrial factors and firm size.

Keywords: working capital; country factors; industry factors; firm size; EU

Revisiting the Energy Consumption-Growth Nexus for Croatia: New Evidence from a Multivariate Framework Analysis original article

pp. 435-452 | First published in 28 December 2014 | DOI:10.5709/ce.1897-9254.155

Nela Vlahinic, Pavle Jakovac


This paper applies the most recently developed autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) co-integration procedure to re-investigate co-integration and the causal relationship between energy consumption and real GDP within a multivariate framework that includes capital stock and labor input for Croatia during the 1952–2011 period. The empirical results fully support a positive long-run co-integrated relationship between production inputs and real GDP and the important role of energy in economic growth. It is found that a unidirectional causality runs from total final energy consumption to real GDP in the long run and that a bidirectional causality in the short run, which means that energy is a necessary requirement for economic growth. Additionally, the reduction in energy consumption could adversely affect GDP in the short and long run. Therefore, Croatia should adopt a more vigorous economic policy aimed toward increasing investments in installed energy capacities and reforming the economic structure towards re-industrialization and more energy-efficient industries.

Keywords: economic growth; energy consumption; ARDL; Croatia