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. Marginal Analysis

    An examination of the additional benefits of an activity compared to the additional costs of that activity. Companies use marginal analysis as a decision-making tool to help them maximize their profits. Individuals unconsciously use marginal analysis to make a host of everyday decisions. Marginal analysis is also widely used in microeconomics when analyzing how a complex system is affected by marginal manipulation of its comprising variables.
  2. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities - TIPS

    A treasury security that is indexed to inflation in order to protect investors from the negative effects of inflation. TIPS are considered an extremely low-risk investment since they are backed by the U.S. government and since their par value rises with inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, while their interest rate remains fixed.
  3. Gilt-Edged Switching

    The selling and repurchasing of certain high-grade stocks or bonds to capture profits. Gilt-edged switching involves gilt-edged security, which can be high-grade stock or bond issued by a financially stable company such as the Blue Chip companies or by certain governments.
  4. Master Limited Partnership - MLP

    A type of limited partnership that is publicly traded. There are two types of partners in this type of partnership: The limited partner is the person or group that provides the capital to the MLP and receives periodic income distributions from the MLP's cash flow, whereas the general partner is the party responsible for managing the MLP's affairs and receives compensation that is linked to the performance of the venture.
  5. Class Action

    An action where an individual represents a group in a court claim. The judgment from the suit is for all the members of the group (class).
  6. Retail Sales

    An aggregated measure of the sales of retail goods over a stated time period, typically based on a data sampling that is extrapolated to model an entire country. In the U.S., the retail sales report is a monthly economic indicator compiled and released by the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce.
Trading Center