Law and Finance

This research group studies the role of corporate governance for firm value and policies, with a focus on firm-creditor relationships and legal institutions. We plan to investigate these issues along three lines of research. First, we look at how financial and legal innovations impact firm-creditor relationships. In a project, we examine how the possibility to hedge against credit risk on a firm’s debt through credit default swaps (CDS) may alter such relationships by reducing creditors’ incentives to monitor the firm. The second line of research explores theoretically and empirically how the dynamics of debtor-creditor conflicts shape managerial incentives, and how these in turn influence the firm's cost of debt. The third line of research relates to the role of the court system for firms. The outcome of a legal dispute has two main sources: The applicable laws and the courts that enforce them. We shed light on the role of courts in determining the impact of legal conflicts on firm value.

Research Cluster
Institutions and Social Norms

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Professor Stefano Colonnello, PhD
Professor Stefano Colonnello, PhD
Mitglied - Department Financial Markets
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Refereed Publications

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The Real Effects of Universal Banking: Does Access to the Public Debt Market Matter?

Stefano Colonnello

in: Journal of Financial Services Research, forthcoming

Abstract

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.

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Does It Pay to Get Connected? An Examination of Bank Alliance Network and Bond Spread

Iftekhar Hasan Céline Meslier Amine Tarazi Mingming Zhou

in: Journal of Economics and Business, forthcoming

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of bank alliance network on bonds issued by European banks during the period 1990–2009. We construct six measures capturing different dimensions of banks’ network characteristics. In opposition to the results obtained for non-financial firms, our findings indicate that being part of a network does not create value for bank’s bondholders, indicating a dark side effect of strategic alliances in the banking sector. While being part of a network is perceived as a risk-increasing event by market participants, this negative perception is significantly lower for the larger banks, and, to a lesser extent, for the more profitable banks. Moreover, during crisis times, the positive impact on bond spread of a bank’s higher centrality or of a bank’s higher connectedness in the network is stronger, indicating that market participants may fear spillover effects within the network during periods of banks’ heightened financial fragility.

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Equity Crowdfunding: High-quality or Low-quality Entrepreneurs?

Daniel Blaseg Douglas Cumming Michael Koetter

in: Entrepreneurship, Theory and Practice, No. 3, 2021

Abstract

Equity crowdfunding (ECF) has potential benefits that might be attractive to high-quality entrepreneurs, including fast access to a large pool of investors and obtaining feedback from the market. However, there are potential costs associated with ECF due to early public disclosure of entrepreneurial activities, communication costs with large pools of investors, and equity dilution that could discourage future equity investors; these costs suggest that ECF attracts low-quality entrepreneurs. In this paper, we hypothesize that entrepreneurs tied to more risky banks are more likely to be low-quality entrepreneurs and thus are more likely to use ECF. A large sample of ECF campaigns in Germany shows strong evidence that connections to distressed banks push entrepreneurs to use ECF. We find some evidence, albeit less robust, that entrepreneurs who can access other forms of equity are less likely to use ECF. Finally, the data indicate that entrepreneurs who access ECF are more likely to fail.

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Benign Neglect of Covenant Violations: Blissful Banking or Ignorant Monitoring

Stefano Colonnello Michael Koetter Moritz Stieglitz

in: Economic Inquiry, No. 1, 2021

Abstract

Theoretically, bank's loan monitoring activity hinges critically on its capitalization. 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 capitalized 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.

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Executive Compensation, Macroeconomic Conditions, and Cash Flow Cyclicality

Stefano Colonnello

in: Finance Research Letters, November 2020

Abstract

I model the joint effects of debt, macroeconomic conditions, and cash flow cyclicality on risk-shifting behavior and managerial wealth-for-performance sensitivity. The model shows that risk-shifting incentives rise during recessions and that the shareholders can eliminate such adverse incentives by reducing the equity-based compensation in managerial contracts. Moreover, this reduction should be larger in highly procyclical firms. These novel, testable predictions provide insights into optimal shareholder responses to agency costs of debt throughout the business cycle.

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Working Papers

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Effectiveness and (In)Efficiencies of Compensation Regulation: Evidence from the EU Banker Bonus Cap

Stefano Colonnello Michael Koetter Konstantin Wagner

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 7, 2018

Abstract

We investigate the (unintended) effects of bank executive compensation regulation. Capping the share of variable compensation spurred average turnover rates driven by CEOs at poorly performing banks. Other than that, banks‘ responses to raise fixed compensation sufficed to retain the vast majority of non-CEO executives and those at well performing banks. We fail to find evidence that banks with executives that are more affected by the bonus cap became less risky. In fact, numerous results indicate an increase of risk, even in its systemic dimension according to selected measures. The return component of bank performance appears to be unaffected by the bonus cap. Risk hikes are consistent with an insurance effect associated with raised the increase in fixed compensation of executives. The ability of the policy to enhance financial stability is therefore doubtful.

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Internal Governance and Creditor Governance: Evidence from Credit Default Swaps

Stefano Colonnello

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 6, 2017

Abstract

I study the relation between internal governance and creditor governance. A deterioration in creditor governance may increase the agency costs of debt and managerial opportunism at the expense of shareholders. I exploit the introduction of credit default swaps (CDS) as a negative shock to creditor governance. I provide evidence consistent with shareholders pushing for a substitution effect between internal governance and creditor governance. Following CDS introduction, CDS firms reduce managerial risk-taking incentives relative to other firms. At the same time, after the start of CDS trading, CDS firms increase managerial wealth-performance sensitivity, board independence, and CEO turnover performance-sensitivity relative to other firms.

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Do Courts Matter for Firm Value? Evidence from the U.S. Court System

Stefano Colonnello C. Herpfer

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 1, 2016

Abstract

We estimate the link between the court system and firm value by exploiting a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which changed firms‘ exposure to different courts. We find that exposure to courts which are highly ranked by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce increases firm value. The effect is driven by courts‘ attitude towards businesses more than by their efficiency and is more pronounced for firms in industries with high litigation risk. We also test whether firms benefit from the ability to steer lawsuits into friendly courts, so-called forum shopping. We provide evidence that a reduction in firms‘ ability to forum shop decreases firm value, whereas a reduction in plaintiffs‘ ability to forum shop increases firm value.

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