Forthcoming Articles

Understanding Systematic Risk - A High-Frequency Approach

Published: 3/20/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12898


Based on a novel high‐frequency data set for a large number of firms, I estimate the time‐varying latent continuous and jump factors that explain individual stock returns. The factors are estimated using principal component analysis applied to a local volatility and jump covariance matrix. I find four stable continuous systematic factors, which can be well‐approximated by a market, oil, finance, and electricity portfolio, while there is only one stable jump market factor. The exposure of stocks to these risk factors and their explained variation is time‐varying. The four continuous factors carry an intraday risk premium that reverses overnight.

Political Connections and the Informativeness of Insider Trades

Published: 3/20/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12899


We analyze the trading of corporate insiders at leading financial institutions during the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis. We find strong evidence of a relation between political connections and informed trading during the period in which TARP funds were disbursed, and that the relation is most pronounced among corporate insiders with recent direct connections. Notably, we find evidence of abnormal trading by politically connected insiders 30 days in advance of TARP infusions, and that these trades anticipate the market reaction to the infusion. Our results suggest that political connections can facilitate opportunistic behavior by corporate insiders.

Informational Frictions and the Credit Crunch

Published: 3/19/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12900


In this paper, I estimate the magnitude of an informational friction limiting credit reallocation to firms during the 2007‐2009 financial crisis. Because lenders rely on private information when deciding which relationship to end, borrowers looking for a new lender are adversely selected. I show how to separately identify private information from information common to all lenders but unobservable to the econometrician by using bank shocks within a discrete choice model of relationships. Quantitatively, these informational frictions appears to be too small to explain the credit crunch in the U.S. syndicated corporate loan market.

The Value of Central Clearing

Published: 3/18/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12902


I study a contracting innovation that suddenly insulated traders of hedging contracts against counterparty risk: central clearing counterparties (CCPs) for derivatives. The first CCP was created in Le Havre (France) in 1882, in the coffee futures market. Using triple difference‐in‐differences estimation, I show that central clearing changed the geography of trade flows Europe‐wide, to the benefit of Le Havre. Inspecting the mechanism using trader‐level data, I find that the CCP solved both a “missing market” problem and adverse selection issues. Central clearing also facilitated entry of new traders in the market. The successful contracting innovation quickly spread to other exchanges.

Option Profit and Loss Attribution and Pricing: A New Framework

Published: 3/15/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12894


This paper develops a new top‐down valuation framework that links the pricing of an option investment to its daily profit and loss attribution. The framework uses the Black‐Merton‐Scholes option pricing formula to attribute the short‐term option investment risk to variation in the underlying security price and the option's implied volatility. Taking risk‐neutral expectation and demanding no dynamic arbitrage result in a pricing relation that links an option's fair implied volatility level to the underlying volatility level with corrections for the implied volatility's own expected direction of movement, its variance, and its covariance with the underlying security return.

Drilling and Debt

Published: 3/13/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12884


This paper documents a previously unrecognized debt‐related investment distortion. Using detailed project‐level data for 69 firms in the oil and gas industry, we find that highly levered firms pull forward investment, completing projects early at the expense of long‐run project returns and project value. This behavior is particularly pronounced prior to debt renegotiations. We test several channels that could explain this behavior and find evidence consistent with equity holders sacrificing long‐run project returns to enhance collateral values and, by extension, mitigate lending frictions at debt renegotiations.

Debt Contracting on Management

Published: 3/13/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12893


Change of management restrictions (CMRs) in loan contracts give lenders explicit ex ante control rights over managerial retention and selection. This paper shows that lenders use CMRs to mitigate risks arising from CEO turnover, especially those related to the loss of human capital and replacement uncertainty, thereby providing evidence that human capital risk affects debt contracting. With a CMR in place, the likelihood of CEO turnover decreases by more than half, and future firm performance improves when retention frictions are important, suggesting that lenders can influence managerial turnover, even outside of default states, and help the borrower retain talent.

Do CEOs Matter? Evidence from Hospitalization Events

Published: 3/3/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12897


Using variation in firms’ exposure to their CEOs resulting from hospitalization, we estimate the effect of chief executive officers (CEOs) on firm policies, holding firm‐CEO matches constant. We document three main findings. First, CEOs have a significant effect on profitability and investment. Second, CEO effects are larger for younger CEOs, in growing and family‐controlled firms, and in human‐capital‐intensive industries. Third, CEOs are unique: the hospitalization of other senior executives does not have similar effects on the performance. Overall, our findings demonstrate that CEOs are a key driver of firm performance, which suggests that CEO contingency plans are valuable.

Taming the Factor Zoo: A Test of New Factors

Published: 2/27/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12883


We propose a model selection method to systematically evaluate the contribution to asset pricing of any new factor, above and beyond what a high‐dimensional set of existing factors explains. Our methodology accounts for model selection mistakes that produce a bias due to omitted variables, unlike standard approaches that assume perfect variable selection. We apply our procedure to a set of factors recently discovered in the literature. While most of these new factors are shown to be redundant relative to the existing factors, a few have statistically significant explanatory power beyond the hundreds of factors proposed in the past.

Corporate Control around the World

Published: 2/27/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12889


We study corporate control tracing controlling shareholders for thousands of listed firms from 127 countries over 2004 to 2012. Government and family control is pervasive in civil‐law countries. Blocks are commonplace, but less so in common‐law countries. These patterns apply to large, medium, and small firms. In contrast, the development‐control nexus is heterogeneous; strong for large but absent for small firms. Control correlates strongly with shareholder protection, the stringency of employment contracts and unions power. Conversely, the correlations with creditor rights, legal formalism, and entry regulation appear weak. These patterns support both legal origin and political theories of financial development.

What Matters to Individual Investors? Evidence from the Horse's Mouth

Published: 2/25/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12895


We survey a representative sample of U.S. individuals about how well leading academic theories describe their financial beliefs and decisions. We find substantial support for many factors hypothesized to affect portfolio equity share, particularly background risk, investment horizon, rare disasters, transactional factors, and fixed costs of stock market participation. Individuals tend to believe that past mutual fund performance is a good signal of stock‐picking skill, actively managed funds do not suffer from diseconomies of scale, value stocks are safer and do not have higher expected returns, and high‐momentum stocks are riskier and do have higher expected returns.

Venturing beyond the IPO: Financing of Newly Public Firms by Venture Capitalists

Published: 2/24/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12879


Contrary to conventional wisdom, we document that approximately 15% of venture capitalist (VC)‐backed firms raise additional capital from VCs in the five years after going public. We propose two explanations for why firms revert to VC financing post‐IPO (initial public offering). First, we hypothesize that VC participation in post‐IPO financing represents an efficient solution to informational problems that would otherwise constrain firms’ abilities to exploit value‐increasing investments. Analyses of firm and VC characteristics, together with the finding that these investments are value‐increasing for both VCs and the underlying companies, support this hypothesis. We find no support for the alternative that agency conflicts motivate these investments.

Lazy Prices

Published: 2/22/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12885


Using the complete history of regular quarterly and annual filings by U.S. corporations, we show that changes to the language and construction of financial reports have strong implications for firms’ future returns and operations. A portfolio that shorts “changers” and buys “nonchangers” earns up to 188 basis points per month in alpha (over 22% per year) in the future. Moreover, changes to 10‐Ks predict future earnings, profitability, future news announcements, and even future firm‐level bankruptcies. Unlike typical underreaction patterns, we find no announcement effect, suggesting that investors are inattentive to these simple changes across the universe of public firms.

How Skilled Are Security Analysts?

Published: 2/20/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12890


The majority of security analysts are identified as skilled when the cross‐section of analyst performance is modeled as a mixture of multiple skill distributions. Analysts exhibit heterogeneous skill—some are high‐type, and some are low‐type. On average, the recommendation revisions of both types exhibit positive abnormal returns. The heterogeneity stems from differential ability to produce new information; all analysts can profitably process news. Top analysts outperform because more of their recommendations are influential (i.e., associated with statistically significant returns) and both their influential and noninfluential recommendations are more informative. A majority of research firms are also identified as skilled.

Star Ratings and the Incentives of Mutual Funds

Published: 2/20/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12888


We propose a theory of reputation to explain how investors rationally respond to mutual fund star ratings. A fund's performance is determined by its information advantage, which can be acquired but decays stochastically. Investors form beliefs about whether the fund is informed based on its past performance. We refer to such beliefs as fund reputation, which determines fund flows. As performance changes continuously, equilibrium fund reputation may take discrete values only and thus can be labeled with stars. Star upgrades thus imply reputation jumps, leading to discrete increases in flows and expected performance, although stars do not provide new information.

Bank Quality, Judicial Efficiency, and Loan Repayment Delays in Italy

Published: 2/20/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12896


Italian firms delay payment to banks weakened by past loan losses. Exploiting Credit Register data, we fully absorb borrower fundamentals with firm‐quarter effects. Identification therefore reflects firm choices to delay payment to some banks, depending upon their health. This selective delay occurs more where legal enforcement of collateral recovery is slow. Poor enforcement encourages borrowers not to pay when the value of their bank relationship comes into doubt. Selective delays occur even by firms able to pay all lenders. Credit losses in Italy have thus been worsened by the combination of weak banks and weak legal enforcement.

Insider Investment Horizon

Published: 2/13/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12878


We examine the relation between insiders’ investment horizon and the information content of their trades with respect to future stock returns. We conjecture that an insider's investment horizon establishes a benchmark for expected patterns of continued trading behavior and thus helps identify unexpected insider trades, which should be more informative in efficient markets. Consistent with this conjecture, the trades of short‐horizon insiders are both more unexpected and more informed, on average, than those of long‐horizon insiders. Short‐horizon insiders and their firms also tend to display characteristics that are associated with a greater focus on short‐termism.

What Drives Anomaly Returns?

Published: 2/13/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12876


We decompose the returns of five well‐known anomalies into cash flow and discount rate news. Common patterns emerge across the five factor portfolios and their mean‐variance efficient (MVE) combination. Whereas discount rate news predominates in market returns, systematic cash flow news drives the returns of anomaly portfolios and their MVE combination with the market portfolio. Anomaly cash flow and discount rate shocks are largely uncorrelated with market cash flow and discount rate shocks and with business cycle fluctuations. These rich empirical patterns restrict the joint dynamics of firm cash flows and the pricing kernel, thereby informing models of stocks' expected returns.

High‐Frequency Trading and Market Performance

Published: 2/8/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12882


We study the consequences of, and potential policy responses to, high‐frequency trading (HFT) via the tradeoff between liquidity and information production. Faster speeds facilitate HFT, with consequences for this tradeoff: Information production decreases because informed traders have less time to trade before HFTs react, but liquidity (measured by the bid‐ask spread) improves because informational asymmetries decline. HFT also pushes outcomes inside the frontier of this tradeoff. However, outcomes can be restored to the frontier by replacing the limit order book with one of two alternative mechanisms: delaying all orders except cancellations or implementing frequent batch auctions.

Can Unemployment Insurance Spur Entrepreneurial Activity? Evidence from France

Published: 2/5/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12880


We evaluate the effect of downside insurance on self‐employment. We exploit a large‐scale reform of French unemployment benefits that insured unemployed workers starting businesses. The reform significantly increased firm creation without decreasing the quality of new entrants. Firms started postreform were initially smaller, but their employment growth, productivity, and survival rates are similar to those prereform. New entrepreneurs' characteristics and expectations are also similar. Finally, jobs created by new entrants crowd out employment in incumbent firms almost one‐for‐one, but have a higher productivity than incumbents. These results highlight the benefits of encouraging experimentation by lowering barriers to entry.

Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Existence and Uniqueness of Recursive Utilities

Published: 1/25/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12877


We obtain exact necessary and sufficient conditions for existence and uniqueness of solutions of a class of homothetic recursive utility models postulated by Epstein and Zin. The conditions center on a single test value with a natural economic interpretation. The test sheds light on the relationship between valuation of cash flows, impatience, risk adjustment, and intertemporal substitution of consumption. We propose two methods to compute the test value when an analytical solution is not available. We further provide several applications.

Consumption Fluctuations and Expected Returns

Published: 1/6/2020  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.12870


This paper introduces a novel consumption‐based variable, cyclical consumption, and examines its predictive properties for stock returns. Future expected stock returns are high (low) when aggregate consumption falls (rises) relative to its trend and marginal utility from current consumption is high (low). We show that the empirical evidence ties consumption decisions of agents to time variation in returns in a manner consistent with asset pricing models based on external habit formation. The predictive power of cyclical consumption is not confined to bad times and subsumes the predictability of many popular forecasting variables.