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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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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A Note of Caution on Quantifying Banks' Recapitalization Effects

Felix Noth Kirsten Schmidt Lena Tonzer

in: Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, No. 4, 2022

Abstract

Unconventional monetary policy measures like asset purchase programs aim to reduce certain securities' yield and alter financial institutions' investment behavior. These measures increase the institutions' market value of securities and add to their equity positions. We show that the extent of this recapitalization effect crucially depends on the securities' accounting and valuation methods, country-level regulation, and maturity structure. We argue that future research needs to consider these factors when quantifying banks' recapitalization effects and consequent changes in banks' lending decisions to the real sector.

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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, February 2022

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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Firm-level Employment, Labour Market Reforms, and Bank Distress

Ralph Setzer Moritz Stieglitz

in: Journal of International Money and Finance, February 2022

Abstract

We explore the impact of financial frictions on the employment effect of labour market reforms. 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 medium to long-term employment gains at the firm-level. Entrepreneurs without sufficient access to credit cannot reap the full benefits of more flexible employment regulation.

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Bank Concentration and Product Market Competition

Farzad Saidi Daniel Streitz

in: Review of Financial Studies, No. 10, 2021

Abstract

This paper documents a link between bank concentration and markups in nonfinancial sectors. We exploit concentration-increasing bank mergers and variation in banks’ market shares across industries and show that higher credit concentration is associated with higher markups and that high-market-share lenders charge lower loan rates. We argue that this is due to the greater incidence of competing firms sharing common lenders that induce less aggressive product market behavior among their borrowers, thereby internalizing potential adverse effects of higher rates. Consistent with our conjecture, the effect is stronger in industries with competition in strategic substitutes where negative product market externalities are greatest.

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Working Papers

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Competition, Cost Structure, and Labour Leverage: Evidence from the U.S. Airline Industry

Konstantin Wagner

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 21, 2020

Abstract

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.

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Marginal Returns to Talent for Material Risk Takers in Banking

Moritz Stieglitz Konstantin Wagner

in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 20, 2020

Abstract

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.

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Dynamic Equity Slope

Matthijs Breugem Stefano Colonnello Roberto Marfè Francesca Zucchi

in: University of Venice Ca' Foscari Department of Economics Working Papers, No. 21, 2020

Abstract

The term structure of equity and its cyclicality are key to understand the risks drivingequilibrium asset prices. We propose a general equilibrium model that jointly  explainsfour important features of the term structure of equity: (i) a negative unconditionalterm premium, (ii) countercyclical term premia, (iii) procyclical equity yields, and (iv)premia to value and growth claims respectively increasing and decreasing with thehorizon. The economic mechanism hinges on the interaction between heteroskedasticlong-run growth — which helps price long-term cash flows and leads to countercyclicalrisk premia — and homoskedastic short-term shocks in the presence of limited marketparticipation — which produce sizeable risk premia to short-term cash flows. The slopedynamics hold irrespective of the sign of its unconditional average. We provide empirical support to our model assumptions and predictions.

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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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