Committing to Grow: Privatizations and Firm Dynamics in East Germany
IWH Discussion Papers,
This paper investigates a unique policy designed to maintain employment during the privatization of East German firms after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The policy required new owners of the firms to commit to employment targets, with penalties for non-compliance. Using a dynamic model, we highlight three channels through which employment targets impact firms: distorted employment decisions, increased productivity, and higher exit rates. Our empirical analysis, using a novel dataset and instrumental variable approach, confirms these findings. We estimate a 22% points higher annual employment growth rate, a 14% points higher annual productivity growth, and a 3.6% points higher probability of exit for firms with binding employment targets. Our calibrated model further demonstrates that without these targets, aggregate employment would have been 15% lower after 10 years. Additionally, an alternative policy of productivity investment subsidies proved costly and less effective in the short term.
Institutions and Corporate Reputation: Evidence from Public Debt Markets
Journal of Business Ethics,
Using data from China’s public debt markets, we study the value of corporate reputation and how it interacts with legal and cultural forces to assure accountability. Exploring lawsuits that change corporate reputation, we find that firms involved in lawsuits experience a decrease in bond values and a tightening of borrowing terms. Using the heterogeneities in legal and social capital environments across Chinese provinces, we find the effects are more pronounced for private firms, firms headquartered in provinces with low legal protections, and firms headquartered in provinces with high social capital. The results show that lawsuits that allege misconduct are associated with reputational penalties and that such penalties serve as substitutes for legal protections and as complements to cultural forces to provide ex post accountability and motivate ex ante trust.
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The Nasty Gap 30 years after unification: Why East Germany is still 20% poorer than the...
The Value of Firm Networks: A Natural Experiment on Board Connections
SAFE Working Papers,
We present causal evidence on the effect of boardroom networks on firm value and compensation policies. We exploit a ban on interlocking directorates of Italian financial and insurance companies as exogenous variation and show that firms that lose centrality in the network experience negative abnormal returns around the announcement date. The key driver of our results is the role of boardroom connections in reducing asymmetric information. The complementarities with the input-output and cross-ownership networks are consistent with this channel. Using hand-collected data, we also show that network centrality has a positive effect on directors’ compensation, providing evidence of rent sharing.
Firm Social Networks, Trust, and Security Issuances
European Journal of Finance,
We observe that public firms are more likely to issue seasoned stocks rather than bonds when theirs boards are more socially-connected. These connected issuers experience better announcement-period stock returns and attract more institutional investors. This social-connection effect is stronger for firms with severe information asymmetry, higher risk of being undersubscribed, and more visible to investors. Our conjecture is this social-network effect is driven by trust in issuing firms. Given stocks are more sensitive to trust, these trusted firms are more likely to issue stocks than bonds. Trustworthiness plays an important role in firms’ security issuances in capital markets.
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The Real Effects of Universal Banking: Does Access to the Public Debt Market Matter?
Journal of Financial Services Research,
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.