Graduation Year

Spring 2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Fan Yu

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2011 Sean Wasserman,


This paper utilizes a sample of firms over the years 2000–2009 to test the effects of credit rating changes, the financial crisis, interest rates, and other variables on short-term, long-term, and total debt levels on the balance sheet. Each independent variable was created using a one year lag in order to run the regressions. The values of these variables from the previous year are being analyzed to see if they can predict debt levels for the following year. The results of this paper suggest that levels of long-term and total debt are somewhat reliant on and are positively correlated with the federal funds rate. The results indicate that short-term debt levels are much harder to predict, but they appear to be negatively correlated with the financial crisis. Long-term debt levels were also affected by this variable, but were positively correlated with it. Z-score was a significant predictor of all types of debt, and was positively correlated with each. In an effort to acquire as many data points as possible for the regressions, strict data filtration techniques were used. This limited the sample to 177 firms. The overall insignificance of the results in this study suggest that further research on what drives debt levels on the balance sheet is necessary. This will generate a greater understanding of firm behavior both inside and outside of a financial crisis.