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.
Financial Incentives and Loan Officer Behavior: Multitasking and Allocation of Effort under an Incomplete Contract
in: Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, forthcoming
In this paper we investigate the implications of providing loan officers with a compensation structure that rewards loan volume and penalizes poor performance versus a fixed wage unrelated to performance. We study detailed transaction information for more than 45,000 loans issued by 240 loan officers of a large commercial bank in Europe. We examine the three main activities that loan officers perform: monitoring, originating, and screening. We find that when the performance of their portfolio deteriorates, loan officers increase their effort to monitor existing borrowers, reduce loan origination, and approve a higher fraction of loan applications. These loans, however, are of above-average quality. Consistent with the theoretical literature on multitasking in incomplete contracts, we show that loan officers neglect activities that are not directly rewarded under the contract, but are in the interest of the bank. In addition, while the response by loan officers constitutes a rational response to a time allocation problem, their reaction to incentives appears myopic in other dimensions.
CEO Investment of Deferred Compensation Plans and Firm Performance
in: Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, forthcoming
We study how US chief executive officers (CEOs) invest their deferred compensation plans depending on the firm's profitability. By looking at the correlation between the CEO's return on these plans and the firm's stock return, we show that deferred compensation is to a large extent invested in the company equity in good times and divested from it in bad times. The divestment from company equity in bad times arguably reflects CEOs' incentive to abandon the firm and to invest in alternative instruments to preserve the value of their deferred compensation plans. This result suggests that the incentive alignment effects of deferred compensation crucially depend on the firm's health status.
Risk and Earnings Quality: Evidence from Bank Enforcement Actions, Contemporary
in: Journal of Banking & Finance, forthcomingread publication
Borrowers Under Water! Rare Disasters, Regional Banks, and Recovery Lending
in: Journal of Financial Intermediation, forthcoming
We show that local banks provide corporate recovery lending to firms affected by adverse regional macro shocks. Banks that reside in counties unaffected by the natural disaster that we specify as macro shock increase lending to firms inside affected counties by 3%. Firms domiciled in flooded counties, in turn, increase corporate borrowing by 16% if they are connected to banks in unaffected counties. We find no indication that recovery lending entails excessive risk-taking or rent-seeking. However, within the group of shock-exposed banks, those without access to geographically more diversified interbank markets exhibit more credit risk and less equity capital.
Delay Determinants of European Banking Union Implementation
in: European Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming
Most countries in the European Union (EU) delay the transposition of European Commission (EC) directives, which aim at reforming banking supervision, resolution, and deposit insurance. We compile a systematic overview of these delays to investigate if they result from strategic considerations of governments conditional on the state of their financial, regulatory, and political systems. Transposition delays pertaining to the three Banking Union directives differ considerably across the 28 EU members. Bivariate regression analyses suggest that existing national bank regulation and supervision drive delays the most. Political factors are less relevant. These results are qualitatively insensitive to alternative estimation methods and lag structures. Multivariate analyses highlight that well-stocked deposit insurance schemes speed-up the implementation of capital requirements, banking systems with many banks are slower in implementing new bank rescue and resolution rules, and countries with a more intensive sovereign-bank nexus delay the harmonization of EU deposit insurance more.
Firm-level Employment, Labour Market Reforms, and Bank Distress
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 15, 2019
We explore the interaction between labour market reforms and financial frictions. Our study combines a new cross-country reform database on labour market reforms with matched firm-bank data for nine euro area countries over the period 1999 to 2013. While we find that labour market reforms are overall effective in increasing employment, restricted access to bank credit can undo up to half of long-term employment gains at the firm-level. Entrepreneurs without sufficient access to credit cannot reap the full benefits of more flexible employment regulation.
Do Asset Purchase Programmes Shape Industry Dynamics? Evidence from the ECB's SMP on Plant Entries and Exits
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 12, 2019
Asset purchase programmes (APPs) may insulate banks from having to terminate relationships with unproductive customers. Using administrative plant and bank data, we test whether APPs impinge on industry dynamics in terms of plant entry and exit. Plants in Germany connected to banks with access to an APP are approximately 20% less likely to exit. In particular, unproductive plants connected to weak banks with APP access are less likely to close. Aggregate entry and exit rates in regional markets with high APP exposures are also lower. Thus, APPs seem to subdue Schumpeterian cleansing mechanisms, which may hamper factor reallocation and aggregate productivity growth.
‘And Forgive Us Our Debts’: Do Christian Moralities Influence Over-indebtedness of Individuals?
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 8, 2019
This paper analyses whether Christian moralities and rules formed differently by Catholics and Protestants impact the likelihood of households to become overindebted. We find that over-indebtedness is lower in regions in which Catholics outweigh Protestants, indicating that Catholics‘ forgiveness culture and a stricter enforcement of rules by Protestants serve as explanations for our results. Our results provide evidence that religion affects the financial situations of individuals and show that even 500 years after the split between Catholics and Protestants, the differences in the mind-sets of both denominations play an important role for situations of severe financial conditions.
What Drives Banks‘ Geographic Expansion? The Role of Locally Non-diversifiable Risk
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 6, 2019
We show that banks that are facing relatively high locally non-diversifiable risks in their home region expand more across states than banks that do not face such risks following branching deregulation in the 1990s and 2000s. These banks with high locally non-diversifiable risks also benefit relatively more from deregulation in terms of higher bank stability. Further, these banks expand more into counties where risks are relatively high and positively correlated with risks in their home region, suggesting that they do not only diversify but also build on their expertise in local risks when they expand into new regions.
Benign Neglect of Covenant Violations: Blissful Banking or Ignorant Monitoring?
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 3, 2019
Theoretically, bank‘s loan monitoring activity hinges critically on its capitalisation. To proxy for monitoring intensity, we use changes in borrowers‘ investment following loan covenant violations, when creditors can intervene in the governance of the firm. Exploiting granular bank-firm relationships observed in the syndicated loan market, we document substantial heterogeneity in monitoring across banks and through time. Better capitalised banks are more lenient monitors that intervene less with covenant violators. Importantly, this hands-off approach is associated with improved borrowers‘ performance. Beyond enhancing financial resilience, regulation that requires banks to hold more capital may thus also mitigate the tightening of credit terms when firms experience shocks.