This study uses covenant violations as a quasinatural experimental setting to examine creditors’ roles in shaping corporate cost behavior. Using a regression discontinuity design, I find that cost stickiness experiences a sharp decline following debt covenant violations when control rights are transferred to creditors. The cost stickiness effect is more substantial for borrowers with lower credit ratings and when creditors possess greater bargaining power. The effect is also more pronounced during industry downturns when borrowers have fewer alternative sources of finance. Results are consistent when I use alternative measures of cost stickiness and alternative research designs. Overall, my evidence indicates that creditors play a monitoring role in firms’ cost behaviors and identifies a specific channel (loan covenants) through which the misalignment of incentives can impact cost asymmetry.

JEL Classifications: D24; G32; M41.

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