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  • October 13, 2007

    Estimating the Cost of Equity for Canadian and U.S. Firms

    Financing costs are important for both firms and the economy, affecting investment decisions and, ultimately, economic growth. Despite concern among policy-makers that the cost of equity financing may be higher in Canada than in the United States, empirical evidence supporting this view is mixed. Yet Canadian firms may not undertake as many projects that could potentially enhance growth if the cost of equity financing in Canada is relatively high. The article summarizes research by Jonathan Witmer and Lorie Zorn on the influences on the cost of equity in Canada and the United States, using an updated methodology that controls for firm characteristics and aggregate-level factors. In their sample, the cost of equity was 30–50 basis points higher in Canada over 1988 to 2006 but appears to have dropped in the post-1997 period. The results have policy implications related to such factors as firm size, disclosure, and securities regulation and enforcement.