Research in this department centres on institutional changes in Europe’s financial markets. The department analyses the causes and consequences of banks’ international expansions, the link between market structures in banking and aggregate (financial) stability, contagion effects on international financial markets and the role of the financial system for the real economy.
The interdependence of the financial services sector with innovation and productivity in the real economy are of particular interest. Methodologically, research focuses on empirical methods that support analyses of feedback from the micro to the macro level and that allow for causal evaluations of regulatory interventions into financial systems.
Asymmetric Reactions of Abnormal Audit Fees Jump to Credit Rating Changes
in: British Accounting Review, forthcoming
Considering the inherent stickiness of abnormal audit fees, our study contributes to the literature by decomposing abnormal audit fees into a jump component and long-run sticky component. We investigate whether and how changes in credit ratings asymmetrically affect the jump component of abnormal audit fees. We document a positive association between rating downgrades and the jump component. We find that heightened bankruptcy risk and misstatement risk are the mechanisms that drive this relationship. Further analysis shows that firms experiencing rating downgrades are more likely to receive a going concern opinion and experience longer audit report lags. Taken together, our findings provide direct evidence that credit ratings are significantly associated with abnormal audit fees, particularly with the jump component. Given the serial correlation of abnormal audit fees, our study sheds light on the importance of disaggregation of the abnormal audit fee residuals into the jump and long-run sticky components.
The Effects of Antitrust Laws on Horizontal Mergers: International Evidence
in: Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, forthcoming
This study examines how antitrust law adoptions affect horizontal merger and acquisition (M&A) outcomes. Using the staggered introduction of competition laws in 20 countries, we find antitrust regulation decreases acquirers’ five-day cumulative abnormal returns surrounding horizontal merger announcements. A decrease in deal value, target book assets, and industry peers' announcement returns are consistent with the market power hypothesis. Exploiting antitrust law adoptions addresses a downward bias to an estimated effect of antitrust enforcement (Baker (2003)). The potential bias from heterogeneous treatment effects does not nullify our results. Overall, antitrust policies seem to deter post-merger monopolistic gains, potentially improving customer welfare.
State Ownership and Financial Statement Comparability
in: Journal of Business Finance and Accounting, forthcoming
Abstract This paper investigates how state ownership affects financial reporting practices in China. Using several measures of state (government) ownership, we show that a one-standard-deviation increase in state ownership decreases financial statement comparability by 36.61%, and the impact is more pronounced when the central authority has majority control of the company. Moreover, lower earnings quality and lower levels of accounting conservatism among state-owned enterprises (SOEs) may explain the lower accounting comparability between SOEs and non-SOEs (NSOEs). Additionally, similar (different) managerial objectives converge (diverge) financial statement comparability between SOEs and NSOEs. Last, the geographical locations of firms also contribute to financial statement comparability. We employ a difference-in-differences design, changes regression and entropy balancing to mitigate potential endogeneity bias.
Creditor-control Rights and the Nonsynchronicity of Global CDS Markets
in: Review of Corporate Finance Studies, forthcoming
We analyze how creditor rights affect the nonsynchronicity of global corporate credit default swap spreads (CDS-NS). CDS-NS is negatively related to the country-level creditor-control rights, especially to the “restrictions on reorganization” component, where creditor-shareholder conflicts are high. The effect is concentrated in firms with high investment intensity, asset growth, information opacity, and risk. Pro-creditor bankruptcy reforms led to a decline in CDS-NS, indicating lower firm-specific idiosyncratic information being priced in credit markets. A strategic-disclosure incentive among debtors avoiding creditor intervention seems more dominant than the disciplining effect, suggesting how strengthening creditor rights affects power rebalancing between creditors and shareholders.
Disentangling Stock Return Synchronicity From the Auditor's Perspective
in: Journal of Business Finance and Accounting, forthcoming
Abstract This paper investigates a firm's stock return asynchronicity through the auditor's perspective to distinguish whether this asynchronicity can proxy for the company's firm-specific information or the quality of its information environment. We find a significant and positive association between asynchronicity and audit fees after controlling for auditor quality and other factors that affect audit fees, suggesting that stock return asynchronicity is more likely to capture a company's firm-specific information than its information environment. We also find that asynchronous firms are more likely to receive adverse opinions on their internal controls over financial reporting, but are associated with lower costs of capital and auditor litigation, providing further evidence in support of the firm-specific information argument. Asynchronicity's positive association with audit fees is driven by firms with higher accounting reporting complexity, suggesting stock return asynchronicity captures a firm's complexity, resulting in more significant efforts by the auditor.
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 3, 2024
This paper documents the rise of “poison bonds”, which are corporate bonds that allow bondholders to demand immediate repayment in a change-of-control event. The share of poison bonds among new issues has grown substantially in recent years, from below 20% in the 90s to over 60% since mid-2000s. This increase is predominantly driven by investment-grade issues. We provide causal evidence that the pressure to eliminate poison pills has led firms to issue poison bonds as an alternative. Our analysis suggests that this practice entrenches incumbent managers and destroys shareholder value. Holding a portfolio of firms that remove poison pills but promptly issue poison bonds results in negative abnormal returns of −7.3% per year. Our findings have important implications for the agency theory of debt: (i) more debt may not discipline the management; and (ii) even without financial distress, managerial entrenchment can lead to agency conflicts between shareholders and creditors.
The Reverse Revolving Door in the Supervision of European Banks
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 25, 2023
We show that around one third of executive directors on the boards of national supervisory authorities (NSA) in European banking have an employment history in the financial industry. The appointment of executives without a finance background associates with negative valuation effects. Appointments of former bankers, in turn, spark positive stock market reactions. This „proximity premium“ of supervised banks is a more likely driver of positive valuation effects than superior financial expertise or intrinsic skills of former executives from the financial industry. Prior to the inception of the European Single Supervisory Mechanism, the presence of former financial industry executives on the board of NSA associates with lower regulatory capital and faster growth of banks, pointing to a more lenient supervisory style.
Distributional Income Effects of Banking Regulation in Europe
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 24, 2023
We study the impact of stricter and more harmonized banking regulation along the income distribution using household survey data for 25 EU countries. Exploiting country-level heterogeneity in the implementation of European Banking Union directives allows us to control for confounders and identify effects. Our results show that these regulatory reforms aimed at increasing financial system resilience affected households heterogeneously. More stringent regulation reduces income growth for low-income households due to employment exits. Yet it tends to increase growth rates at the top of the distribution both for employee and self-employed income.
Green Investing, Information Asymmetry, and Capital Structure
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 20, 2023
We investigate how optimal attention allocation of green-motivated investors changes information asymmetry in financial markets and thus affects firms‘ financing costs. To guide our empirical analysis, we propose a model where investors with heterogeneous green preferences endogenously allocate limited attention to learn market-level or firm-specific fundamental shocks. We find that a higher fraction of green investors in the market leads to higher aggregate attention to green firms. This reduces the information asymmetry of green firms, leading to higher price informativeness and lower leverage. Moreover, the information asymmetry of brown firms and the market increases with the share of green investors. Therefore, greater green attention is associated with less market efficiency. We provide empirical evidence to support our model predictions using U.S. data. Our paper shows how the growing demand for sustainable investing shifts investors‘ attention and benefits eco-friendly firms.
in: SSRN Discussion Paper, 2023
This paper documents the rise of "poison bonds", which are corporate bonds that allow bondholders to demand immediate repayment in a change-of-control event. The share of poison bonds among new issues has grown substantially in recent years, from below 20% in the 90s to over 60% after 2005. This increase is predominantly driven by investment-grade issues. We provide causal evidence that the pressure to eliminate poison pills has led firms to issue poison bonds as an alternative. Further analyses suggest that this practice entrenches incumbent managers, coincidentally benefits bondholders, but destroys shareholder value. Holding a portfolio of firms that remove poison pills but promptly issue poison bonds results in negative abnormal returns of -7.3% per year. Our findings have important implications for understanding the agency benefits and costs of debt: (1) more debt does not necessarily discipline the management; and (2) even without financial distress, managerial entrenchment can lead to conflicts between shareholders and creditors.