Irrelevance Proposition Theorem

Definition of 'Irrelevance Proposition Theorem'


A theory of corporate capital structure that posits financial leverage has no effect on the value of a company if income tax and distress costs are not present in the business environment. The irrelevance proposition theorem was developed by Merton Miller and Franco Modigliani, and was a premise to their Nobel Prize winning work, “The Cost of Capital, Corporation Finance, and Theory of Investment.”

Investopedia explains 'Irrelevance Proposition Theorem'


In developing their theory, Miller and Modigliani first assumed that firms have two primary ways of obtaining funding: equity and debt. While each type of funding has its own benefits and drawbacks, the ultimate outcome is a firm dividing up its cash flows to investors, regardless of the funding source chosen. If all investors have access to the same financial markets, then investors can buy into or sell out of a firm’s cash flows at any point.

Criticisms of the irrelevance proposition theorem focus on the lack of realism in removing the effects of income tax and distress costs from a firm’s capital structure. Because many factors influence a firm’s value, including profits, assets and market opportunities, testing the theorem becomes difficult. For economists, the theory instead outlines the importance of financing decisions more than providing a description of how financing operations work.

Miller and Modigliani used the irrelevance proposition theorem as a starting point in their trade-off theory.



comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. Identity Fraud Reimbursement Program

    A financial product that offers reimbursment for the costs associated with having been a victim of identity theft. These costs may include getting affidavits notarized for police and financial institutions, postage for sending certified mail to police and financial institutions, lost earnings resulting from time spent recovering one's identity, and legal fees.
  2. Cash and Carry Transaction

    A type of transaction in the futures market in which the cash or spot price of a commodity is below the futures contract price. Cash and carry transactions are considered arbitrage transactions.
  3. Amplitude

    The difference in price from the midpoint of a trough to the midpoint of a peak of a security. Amplitude is positive when calculating a bullish retracement (when calculating from trough to peak) and negative when calculating a bearish retracement (when calculating from peak to trough).
  4. Ascending Triangle

    A bullish chart pattern used in technical analysis that is easily recognizable by the distinct shape created by two trendlines. In an ascending triangle, one trendline is drawn horizontally at a level that has historically prevented the price from heading higher, while the second trendline connects a series of increasing troughs.
  5. National Best Bid and Offer - NBBO

    A term applying to the SEC requirement that brokers must guarantee customers the best available ask price when they buy securities and the best available bid price when they sell securities.
  6. Maintenance Margin

    The minimum amount of equity that must be maintained in a margin account. In the context of the NYSE and FINRA, after an investor has bought securities on margin, the minimum required level of margin is 25% of the total market value of the securities in the margin account.
Trading Center