Forthcoming Articles

Asset Pricing and Sports Betting

Published: 9/21/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13082


Sports betting markets offer a novel laboratory to test theories of cross‐sectional asset pricing anomalies. Two features of this market – no systematic risk and terminal values exogenous to betting activity – evade the joint hypothesis problem, allowing mispricing to be detected. Examining a large and diverse set of liquid betting contracts, I find strong evidence of momentum, consistent with delayed overreaction and inconsistent with underreaction and rational pricing. Returns are a fraction of those in financial markets and fail to overcome transactions costs, preventing arbitrage from eliminating them. An insight from betting also predicts value and momentum returns in U.S. equities.

Economic Stimulus at the Expense of Routine‐Task Jobs

Published: 9/14/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13080


Do investment tax incentives improve job prospects for workers? We explore states' adoption of a major federal tax incentive that accelerates the depreciation of equipment investments for eligible firms but not for ineligible ones. Analyzing massive establishment‐level data sets on occupational employment and computer investment, we find that when states expand investment incentives, eligible firms immediately increase their equipment and skilled employees; whereas, they reduce routine‐task employees after a delay of up to two years. These opposing effects constitute an overall insignificant effect on the firms' total employment and shed light on the nuances of job creation through investment incentives.

Inequality Aversion, Populism, and the Backlash Against Globalization

Published: 9/14/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13081


Motivated by the recent rise of populism in western democracies, we develop a tractable equilibrium model in which a populist backlash emerges endogenously in a strong economy. In the model, voters dislike inequality, especially the high consumption of “elites.” Economic growth exacerbates inequality due to heterogeneity in preferences, which leads to heterogeneity in returns on capital. In response to rising inequality, voters optimally elect a populist promising to end globalization. Equality is a luxury good. Countries with more inequality, higher financial development, and trade deficits are more vulnerable to populism, both in the model and in the data.

Currency Mispricing and Dealer Balance Sheets

Published: 9/14/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13079


We find dealer‐level evidence that recent regulation on the leverage ratio requirement causes deviations from covered interest parity. Our analysis uses a unique data set of currency derivatives with disclosed counterparty identities together with exogenous variation introduced by the UK leverage ratio framework. Dealers that are affected by the regulatory shock charge an additional premium of about 20 basis points per annum for synthetic dollar funding relative to unaffected dealers. This finding holds even after controlling for changes in clients' demand. Also, some clients increase their trading activity with unaffected dealers with whom they already had a pre‐existing relationship.

Fire‐Sale Spillovers in Debt Markets

Published: 9/14/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13078


Fire sales induced by investor redemptions have powerful spillover effects among funds that hold the same assets, hurting peer funds' performance and flows, and leading to further asset sales with negative bond price impact. A one‐standard‐deviation increase in our fire‐sale spillover measure leads to a 45 (90) bp decrease in peer fund returns (flows) and a two percentage‐point increase in the likelihood of a large bond price drop. The results hold in a regression‐discontinuity design addressing identification concerns. Timing, heterogeneity, instrumental‐variable, and placebo tests further support the price‐impact mechanism. Model‐based counterfactual and stress‐test analyses quantify the financial stability implications.

Talent in Distressed Firms: Investigating the Labor Costs of Financial Distress

Published: 9/13/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13077

Ramin P. Baghai, Rui C. Silva, Viktor Thell, Vikrant Vig

The importance of skilled labor and the inalienability of human capital expose firms to the risk of losing talent at critical times. Using Swedish micro‐data, we document that firms lose workers with the highest cognitive and noncognitive skills as they approach bankruptcy. In a quasi‐experiment, we confirm that financial distress drives these results: following a negative export shock caused by exogenous currency movements, talent abandons the firm, but only if the exporter is highly leveraged. Consistent with talent dependence being associated with higher labor costs of financial distress, firms that rely more on talent have more conservative capital structures.

Volatility, Valuation Ratios, and Bubbles: An Empirical Measure of Market Sentiment

Published: 8/31/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13068


We define a sentiment indicator based on option prices, valuation ratios, and interest rates. The indicator can be interpreted as a lower bound on the expected growth in fundamentals that a rational investor would have to perceive to be happy to hold the market. The bound was unusually high in the late 1990s, reflecting dividend growth expectations that in our view were unreasonably optimistic. Our approach exploits two key ingredients. First, we derive a new valuation ratio decomposition that is related to the Campbell–Shiller loglinearization but that resembles the Gordon growth model more closely and has certain other advantages. Second, we introduce a volatility index that provides a lower bound on the market's expected log return.

Leverage Regulation and Market Structure: A Structural Model of the U.K. Mortgage Market

Published: 8/23/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13072


I develop a structural model of mortgage demand and lender competition to study how leverage regulation affects the U.K. mortgage market. Using variation in risk‐weighted capital requirements across lenders and mortgages with different loan‐to‐values (LTVs), I show that a 1‐percentage‐point increase in risk‐weighted capital requirements increases lenders' marginal cost of originating mortgages by about 26 basis points (11%) on average. I use the estimated model to study proposed leverage regulations. Counterfactual analyses show that large lenders exploit a regulatory cost advantage, which increases concentration by about 20%, and suggest that banning high‐LTV mortgages may reduce large lenders' equity buffer.

The Loan Covenant Channel: How Bank Health Transmits to the Real Economy

Published: 8/23/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13074


We document the importance of covenant violations in transmitting bank health to nonfinancial firms. Roughly one‐third of loans in our supervisory data breach a covenant during the 2008 to 2009 period, allowing lenders to force a renegotiation of loan terms or to accelerate repayment of otherwise long‐term credit. Lenders in worse health are more likely to force a reduction in the loan commitment following a violation. The reduction in credit to borrowers who violate a covenant can account for the majority of the cross‐sectional variation in credit supply during the 2008 to 2009 crisis.

Valuing Private Equity Investments Strip by Strip

Published: 8/23/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13073


We propose a new valuation method for private equity (PE) investments. It constructs a replicating portfolio using cash flows on listed equity and fixed‐income instruments (strips). It then values the strips using an asset pricing model that captures the risk in the cross‐section of bonds and equity factors. The method delivers a risk‐adjusted profit on each PE investment and a time series for the expected return on each fund category. We find negative risk‐adjusted profits for the average PE fund, with substantial heterogeneity and some persistence in the performance. Expected returns and risk‐adjusted profit decline in the later part of the sample.

Monetary Policy Spillovers through Invoicing Currencies

Published: 8/17/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13071


This paper explores the role of trade invoicing currencies in the international spillover of monetary policy. Using high‐frequency measures of Federal Reserve monetary policy shocks, I show that exchange rates, interest rates, and equity returns in countries with a larger share of dollar‐invoiced imports systematically respond more to U.S. monetary policy. I document similar transmission effects from European Central Bank (ECB) monetary policy shocks to countries with euro‐invoiced imports. I rationalize these findings within a New Keynesian framework. As a result of these spillovers, domestic monetary policy should be less effective in countries with traded goods invoiced in foreign currencies.

Negative Home Equity and Household Labor Supply

Published: 8/16/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13070


Using U.S. household‐level data and plausibly exogenous variation in the location‐timing of home purchases with a single lender, I find that negative home equity causes a 2% to 6% reduction in household labor supply. Supporting causality, households are observationally equivalent at origination and equally sensitive to local housing shocks that do not cause negative equity. Results also hold comparing purchases within the same year‐metropolitan statistical area that differ by only a few months. Though multiple channels are likely at work, evidence of nonlinear effects is broadly consistent with costs associated with housing lock and financial distress.

Borrowing to Save? The Impact of Automatic Enrollment on Debt

Published: 8/9/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13069


Does automatic enrollment into a retirement plan increase financial distress due to increased borrowing outside the plan? We study a natural experiment created when the U.S. Army began automatically enrolling newly hired civilian employees into the Thrift Savings Plan. Four years after hire, automatic enrollmentincreases cumulative contributions to the plan by 4.1% of annual salary, but we find little evidence ofincreased financial distress. Automatic enrollment causes no significant change in credit scores, debt balances excluding auto debt and first mortgages, or adverse credit outcomes, with the possible exception of increasedfirst‐mortgage balances in foreclosure.

Information Asymmetry, Mispricing, and Security Issuance

Published: 8/2/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13066


I examine the effects of information asymmetry–driven mispricing on security issuance. Using predisclosure changes in purchase obligations as a proxy for information asymmetry–driven mispricing, I find that managers avoid (prefer) issuing securities when they perceive their firms to be undervalued (overvalued). The effects of information asymmetry–driven mispricing are stronger on equity issuance than debt issuance. Consequently, undervaluation (overvaluation) causes an increase (decrease) in leverage. These effects are more pronounced for firms, periods, and securities associated with greater information asymmetry. The stock‐trading patterns that managers follow suggest that their perceived mispricing is an important factor in both private and firm‐level decisions.

Real Estate Shocks and Financial Advisor Misconduct

Published: 7/26/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13067


We test whether personal real estate shocks affect professional misconduct by financial advisors. We use a panel of advisors' home addresses and examine within‐advisor variation relative to other advisors who work at the same firm and live in the same ZIP code. We find a negative relation between housing returns and misconduct. We show that advisors' housing returns explain misconduct against out‐of‐state customers, breaking the link between customer and advisor housing shocks. Furthermore, the results are stronger for advisors with lower career risk from committing misconduct, and for advisors with greater borrowing constraints.

Presidential Address: How Much “Rationality” is There In Bond‐Market Risk Premiums?

Published: 6/9/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13062


Beliefs of professional forecasters are benchmarked against those of a Bayesian econometrician BE who is learning about the unknown dynamics of the bond risk factors. Consistent with rational Bayesian learning, the forecast errors of individual professionals and BE are comparably predictable over the business cycle. The secular and cyclical patterns of professionals' forecasts relative to those of BE are explored in depth. Inconsistent with many models with belief dispersion, the relationship between professionals' yield disagreement and their matched disagreements about macroeconomic fundamentals is very weak.

Weathering Cash Flow Shocks

Published: 5/10/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13024


Unexpectedly severe winter weather, which is arguably exogenous to firm and bank fundamentals, represents a significant cash flow shock for bank‐borrowing firms. Firms respond to these shocks by drawing on and increasing the size of their credit lines. Banks charge borrowers for this liquidity via increased interest rates and less borrower‐friendly loan provisions. Credit line adjustments occur within one calendar quarter of the shock and persist for at least nine months. Overall, we provide evidence that bank credit lines are an important tool for managing the nonfundamental component of cash flow volatility, especially for solvent, small bank borrowers.

How Debit Cards Enable the Poor to Save More

Published: 5/7/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13021


We study an at‐scale natural experiment in which debit cards were given to cash transfer recipients who already had a bank account. Using administrative account data and household surveys, we find that beneficiaries accumulated a savings stock equal to 2% of annual income after two years with the card. The increase in formal savings represents an increase in overall savings, financed by a reduction in current consumption. There are two mechanisms. First, debit cards reduce transaction costs of accessing money. Second, they reduce monitoring costs, which led beneficiaries to check their account balances frequently and build trust in the bank.

Asset Managers: Institutional Performance and Factor Exposures

Published: 5/7/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13026


Using data on $18 trillion of assets under management, we show that actively managed institutional accounts outperformed strategy benchmarks by 75 (31) bps on a gross (net) basis during the period 2000 to 2012. Estimates from a Sharpe model imply that asset managers' outperformance came from factor exposures. If institutions had instead implemented mean‐variance efficient portfolios using index and institutional mutual funds available during the sample period, they would not have earned higher Sharpe ratios. Our results are consistent with the average asset manager having skill, managers competing for institutional capital, and institutions engaging in costly search to identify skilled managers.

What Explains Differences in Finance Research Productivity during the Pandemic?

Published: 5/3/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13028


Based on a survey of American Finance Association members, we analyze how demographics, time allocation, production mechanisms, and institutional factors affect research production during the pandemic. Consistent with the literature, research productivity falls more for women and faculty with young children. Independently, and novel, extra time spent on teaching (much more likely for women) negatively affects research productivity. Also novel, concerns about feedback, isolation, and health have large negative research effects, which disproportionately affect junior faculty and PhD students. Finally, faculty who express greater concerns about employers’ finances report larger negative research effects and more concerns about feedback, isolation, and health.

Don't Take Their Word for It: The Misclassification of Bond Mutual Funds

Published: 4/29/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13023


We provide evidence that bond fund managers misclassify their holdings, and that these misclassifications have a real and significant impact on investor capital flows. The problem is widespread, resulting in up to 31.4% of funds being misclassified with safer profiles, compared to their true, publicly reported holdings. “Misclassified funds”—those that hold risky bonds but claim to hold safer bonds—appear to on‐average outperform lower risk funds in their peer groups. Within category groups, misclassified funds receive more Morningstar stars and higher investor flows. However, when we correctly classify them based on actual risk, these funds are mediocre performers.

Sentiment Trading and Hedge Fund Returns

Published: 4/29/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13025


In the presence of sentiment fluctuations, arbitrageurs may engage in different strategies leading to dispersed sentiment exposures. We find that hedge funds in the top decile ranked by sentiment beta outperform those in the bottom decile by 0.59% per month on a risk‐adjusted basis, with the spread being larger among skilled funds. We also find that about 10% of hedge funds have sentiment timing skill that positively correlates with fund sentiment beta and contributes to fund performance. Our findings show that skilled hedge funds can earn high returns by predicting and exploiting sentiment changes rather than betting against mispricing.

A Theory of Zombie Lending

Published: 4/26/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13022


An entrepreneur borrows from a relationship bank or the market. The bank has a higher cost of capital but produces private information over time. While the entrepreneur accumulates reputation as the lending relationship continues, asymmetric information is also developed between the bank/entrepreneur and the market. In this setting, zombie lending is inevitable: Once the entrepreneur becomes sufficiently reputable, the bank will roll over loans even after learning bad news, for the prospect of future market financing. Zombie lending is mitigated when the entrepreneur faces financial constraints. Finally, the bank stops producing information too early if information production is costly.

Time Variation of the Equity Term Structure

Published: 4/22/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13020


I study the term structure of one‐period expected returns on dividend claims with different maturity. I find that the slope of the term structure is countercyclical. The countercyclical variation is consistent with theories of long‐run risk and habit, but these theories cannot explain the average downward slope. At the same time, the cyclical variation is inconsistent with recent models constructed to match the average downward slope. More generally, the average and cyclicality of the slope are hard to reconcile with models with a single risk factor. I introduce a model with two priced factors to solve the puzzle.

Rent Extraction with Securities Plus Cash

Published: 4/6/2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13018


In our target‐initiated theory of takeovers, a target approaches potential acquirers that privately know their standalone values and merger synergies, where higher synergy acquirers tend to have larger standalone values. Despite their information disadvantage, targets can extract all surplus when synergies and standalone values are concavely related by offering payment choices that are combinations of cash and equity. Targets exploit the reluctance of high‐valuation acquirers to cede equity claims, inducing them to bid more cash. When synergies and standalone values are not concavely related, sellers can gain by combining cash with securities that are more information sensitive than equities.

Are CEOs Different?

Published: 4//2021  |  DOI: 10.1111/jofi.13019


Using 2,603 executive assessments, we study how CEO candidates differ from candidates for other top management positions, particularly CFOs. More than half of the variation in the 30 assessed characteristics is explained by four factors that we interpret as general ability, execution (vs. interpersonal), charisma (vs. analytical), and strategic (vs. managerial). CEO candidates have more extreme factor scores that differ significantly from those of CFO candidates. Conditional on being considered, candidates with greater general ability and interpersonal skills are more likely to be hired. These and our previous results on CEO success suggest that boards overweight interpersonal skills in hiring CEOs.