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.
Transactional and Relational Approaches to Political Connections and the Cost of Debt
in: Journal of Corporate Finance, forthcoming
This paper examines the economic effects of a firm's approach to developing and maintaining political connections. Specifically, we investigate whether lenders favor transactional connection as opposed to relational connection. By tracing firms in a politically volatile emerging democracy in Indonesia, we find that firms following a transactional political connection strategy experience a relatively lower cost of debt than those with a relational strategy. The effect is more pronounced for firms facing high financial distress. The finding is robust to cost of bank loans and a variety of regression methods. Overall, the evidence suggests that in times of frequently changing political regimes, firms benefit from a transactional relationship with politicians as it enables to update connection with the government in power. Relational connection is valuable for a firm only when the political regime connected with it gains power.
The Real Effects of Universal Bank : Does Access to the Public Debt Market Matter?
in: Journal of Financial Services Research, forthcoming
I analyze the impact of the formation of universal banks on corporate investment by looking at the gradual dismantling of the Glass-Steagall Act’s separation between commercial and investment banking. Using a sample of US firms and their relationship banks, I show that firms curtail debt issuance and investment after positive shocks to the underwriting capacity of their main bank. This result is driven by unrated firms and is strongest immediately after a shock. These findings suggest that universal banks may pay more attention to large firms providing more underwriting opportunities while exacerbating financial constraints of opaque firms, in line with a shift to a banking model based on transactional lending.
Do Activist Hedge Funds Target Female CEOs? The Role of CEO Gender in Hedge Fund Activism
in: Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming
Using a comprehensive US hedge fund activism dataset from 2003 to 2018, we find that activist hedge funds are about 52% more likely to target firms with female CEOs compared to firms with male CEOs. We find that firm fundamentals, the existence of a “glass cliff,” gender discrimination bias, and hedge fund activists’ inherent characteristics do not explain the observed gender effect. We also find that the transformational leadership style of female CEOs is a plausible explanation for this gender effect: instead of being self-defensive, female CEOs are more likely to communicate and cooperate with hedge fund activists to achieve intervention goals. Finally, we find that female-led targets experience greater increases in market and operational performance subsequent to hedge fund targeting.
Political Cycles in Bank Lending to the Government
in: Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming
We study how political party turnover after German state elections affects banks’ lending to the regional government. We find that between 1992 and 2018, party turnover at the state level leads to a sharp and substantial increase in lending by local savings banks to their home-state government. This effect is accompanied by an equivalent reduction in private lending. A statistical association between political party turnover and government lending is absent for comparable cooperative banks that exhibit a similar regional organization and business model. Our results suggest that political frictions may interfere with government-owned banks’ local development objectives.
Monetary Policy through Exchange Rate Pegs: The Removal of the Swiss Franc‐Euro Floor and Stock Price Reactions
in: International Review of Finance, forthcoming
The Swiss National Bank abolished the exchange rate floor versus the Euro in January 2015. Using a synthetic matching framework, we analyze the impact of this unexpected (and therefore exogenous) policy change on the stock market. The results reveal a significant level shift (decline) in asset prices following the discontinuation of the minimum exchange rate. As a novel finding in the literature, we document that the exchange‐rate elasticity of Swiss asset prices is around −0.75. Differentiating between sectors of the Swiss economy, we find that the industrial, financial and consumer goods sectors are most strongly affected by the abolition of the minimum exchange rate.
To Rent or not to Rent: A Household Finance Perspective on Berlin's Short-term Rental Regulation
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2021
With the increasing concerns that accompany the rising trends of house sharing economies, regulators impose new laws to counteract housing supply scarcity. In this paper, I investigate whether the ban on short-term entire house listings activated in Berlin in May 2016 had any adverse effects from a household finance perspective. More specifically, I derive short-term rental income and counter-factually compare it with long-term rental income to find that the ban, by decreasing the supply of short-term housing, accelerated short-term rental income but did not have any direct effect on long-term rental income. Commercial home-owners therefore would find renting on the short-term market to be financially advantageous.
Cultural Norms and Corporate Fraud: Evidence from the Volkswagen Scandal
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 24, 2020
We investigate whether cultural norms shaped by religion drive consumer decisions after a corporate scandal. We exploit the notice of violation by the US Environmental Protection Agency in September 2015 accusing Volkswagen (VW) of using software to manipulate car emission values during test phases. We show that new registrations of VW cars decline significantly in German counties with a high share of Protestants following the VW scandal. Our findings document that the enforcement culture in Protestantism facilitates penalising corporate fraud. We corroborate this channel with a survey documenting that Protestants respond significantly different to fraud but not to environmental issues.
Competition, Cost Structure, and Labour Leverage: Evidence from the U.S. Airline Industry
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 21, 2020
I study the effect of increasing competition on financial performance through labour leverage. To capture competition, I exploit variation in product market contestability in the U.S. airline industry. First, I find that increasing competitive pressure leads to increasing labour leverage, proxied by labour share. This explains the decrease in operating profitability through labour rigidities. Second, by exploiting variation in human capital specificity, I show that contestability of product markets induces labour market contestability. Whereas affected firms might experience more stress through higher wages or loss of skilled human capital, more mobile employee groups benefit from competitions through higher labour shares.
Marginal Returns to Talent for Material Risk Takers in Banking
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 20, 2020
Economies of scale can explain compensation differentials over time, across firms of different size, different hierarchy-levels, and different industries. Consequently, the most talented individuals tend to match with the largest firms in industries where marginal returns to their talent are greatest. We explore a new dimension of this size-pay nexus by showing that marginal returns also differ across activities within firms and industries. Using hand-collected data on managers in European banks well below the level of executive directors, we find that the size-pay nexus is strongest for investment banking business units and for banks with a market-based business model. Thus, managerial compensation is most sensitive to size increases for activities that can easily be scaled up.
Cultural Resilience and Economic Recovery: Evidence from Hurricane Katrina
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 16, 2020
This paper investigates the critical role of culture for economic recovery after natural disasters. Using Hurricane Katrina as our laboratory, we find a significant adverse treatment effect for plant-level productivity. However, local religious adherence and larger shares of ancestors with disaster experiences mutually mitigate this detrimental effect from the disaster. Religious adherence further dampens anxiety after Hurricane Katrina, which potentially spur economic recovery. We also detect this effect on the aggregate county level. More religious counties recover faster in terms of population, new establishments, and GDP.