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.
IWH Research Seminar in Economics
FYI – Insides for Young Researchers in Finance
PhD Graduates of the Department
"Let Me Get Back to You" — A Machine Learning Approach to Measuring NonAnswers
in: Management Science, forthcoming
Using a supervised machine learning framework on a large training set of questions and answers, we identify 1,364 trigrams that signal nonanswers in earnings call questions and answers (Q&A). We show that this glossary has economic relevance by applying it to contemporaneous stock market reactions after earnings calls. Our findings suggest that obstructing the flow of information leads to significantly lower cumulative abnormal stock returns and higher implied volatility. As both our method and glossary are free of financial context, we believe that the measure is applicable to other fields with a Q&A setup outside the contextual domain of financial earnings conference calls.
Credit Supply Shocks: Financing Real Growth or Takeovers?
in: Review of Corporate Finance Studies, forthcoming
How do firms invest when financial constraints are relaxed? We document that firms affected by a large positive credit supply shock predominantly increase borrowing for transaction-based purposes. These treated firms have larger asset and employment growth rates; however, growth entirely stems from the increased takeover activity. Announcement returns indicate a low quality of the credit-supply-induced takeover activity. These results offer the possibility that credit-driven growth can simply reflect redistribution, rather than net gains in assets or employment.
Compensation Regulation in Banking: Executive Director Behavior and Bank Performance after the EU Bonus Cap
in: Journal of Accounting and Economics, forthcoming
The regulation that caps executives’ variable compensation, as part of the Capital Requirements Directive IV of 2013, likely affected executive turnover, compensation design, and risk-taking in EU banking. The current study identifies significantly higher average turnover rates but also finds that they are driven by CEOs at poorly performing banks. Banks indemnified their executives by off-setting the bonus cap with higher fixed compensation. Although our evidence is only suggestive, we do not find any reduction in risk-taking at the bank level, one purported aim of the regulation.
The Geography of Information: Evidence from the Public Debt Market
in: Journal of Economic Geography, forthcoming
nWe investigate the link between the spatial concentration of firms in large, central metropolitans (i.e. urban agglomeration) and the cost of public corporate debt. Looking at bond issues over the period 1985–2014, we find that bonds issued by companies headquartered in urban agglomerates have lower at-issue yield spreads than bonds issued by firms based in remote, sparsely populated areas. Measures of the count of institutional bondholders in a firm’s vicinity confirm that the spatial cross-sectional variation in bond spreads is driven by the proximity of metropolitan firms to large concentrations of institutional investors. Our results are robust to controls for firm productivity and governance, analyst following, and exogenous shocks to institutional investor attention. The effect of headquarters location on bond spreads is especially pronounced for more difficult to value, speculative-grade bonds, bonds issued by smaller, less visible firms and bonds issued without protective covenants. Overall, we provide evidence that the geographical distribution of firms and investors generates a corresponding distribution of value-relevant, firm-level information that affects its cost of capital.
To Securitize or To Price Credit Risk?
in: Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, forthcoming
Do lenders securitize or price loans in response to credit risk? Exploiting exogenous variation in regional credit risk due to foreclosure law differences along US state borders, we find that lenders securitize mortgages that are eligible for sale to the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) rather than price regional credit risk. For non-GSE-eligible mortgages with no GSE buyback provision, lenders increase interest rates as they are unable to shift credit risk to loan purchasers. The results inform the debate surrounding the GSEs' buyback provisions, the constant interest rate policy, and show that underpricing regional credit risk increases the GSEs' debt holdings.
Banking Market Deregulation and Mortality Inequality
in: Bank of Finland Research Discussion Papers, No. 14, 2022
This paper shows that local banking market conditions affect mortality rates in the United States. Exploiting the staggered relaxation of branching restrictions in the 1990s across states, we find that banking deregulation decreases local mortality rates. This effect is driven by a decrease in the mortality rate of black residents, implying a decrease in the black-white mortality gap. We further analyze the role of mortgage markets as a transmitter between banking deregulation and mortality and show that households' easier access to finance explains mortality dynamics. We do not find any evidence that our results can be explained by improved labor outcomes.
Real Estate Transaction Taxes and Credit Supply
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 26, 2022
We exploit staggered real estate transaction tax (RETT) hikes across German states to identify the effect of house price changes on mortgage credit supply. Based on approximately 33 million real estate online listings, we construct a quarterly hedonic house price index (HPI) between 2008:q1 and 2017:q4, which we instrument with state-specific RETT changes to isolate the effect on mortgage credit supply by all local German banks. First, a RETT hike by one percentage point reduces HPI by 1.2%. This effect is driven by listings in rural regions. Second, a 1% contraction of HPI induced by an increase in the RETT leads to a 1.4% decline in mortgage lending. This transmission of fiscal policy to mortgage credit supply is effective across almost the entire bank capitalization distribution.
Bitcoin Flash Crash on May 19, 2021: What Did Really Happen on Binance?
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 25, 2022
Bitcoin plunged by 30% on May 19, 2021. We examine the outage the largest crypto exchange Binance experienced during the crash, when it halted trading for retail clients and stopped providing transaction data. We find evidence that Binance back-filled these missing transactions with data that does not conform to Benford‘s Law. The Bitcoin futures price difference between Binance and other exchanges was seven times larger during the crash period compared to a prior reference period. Data manipulation is a plausible explanation for our findings. These actions are in line with Binance aiming to limit losses for its futures-related insurance fund.
Firm Subsidies, Financial Intermediation, and Bank Stability
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 24, 2022
We use granular project-level information for the largest regional economic development program in German history to study whether government subsidies to firms affect the quantity and quality of bank lending. We combine the universe of recipient firms under the Improvement of Regional Economic Structures program (GRW) with their local banks during 1998-2019. The modalities of GRW subsidies to firms are determined at the EU level. Therefore, we use it to identify bank outcomes. Banks with relationships to more subsidized firms exhibit higher lending volumes without any significant differences in bank stability. Subsidized firms, in turn, borrow more indicating that banks facilitate regional economic development policies.
Trading away Incentives
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 23, 2022
Equity pay has been the primary component of managerial compensation packages at US public firms since the early 1990s. Using a comprehensive sample of top executives from 1992-2020, we estimate to what extent they trade firm equity held in their portfolios to neutralize increments in ownership due to annual equity pay. Executives accommodate ownership increases linked to options awards. Conversely, increases in stock holdings linked to option exercises and restricted stock grants are largely neutralized through comparable sales of unrestricted shares. Variation in stock trading responses across executives hardly appears to respond to diversification motives. From a theoretical standpoint, these results challenge (i) the common, generally implicit assumption that managers cannot undo their incentive packages, (ii) the standard modeling practice of treating different equity pay items homogeneously, and (iii) the often taken for granted crucial role of diversification motives in managers’ portfolio choices.