The Geography of Information: Evidence from the Public Debt Market
Bill Francis, Iftekhar Hasan, Maya Waisman
Journal of Economic Geography,
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.
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Cross-country Evidence on the Relationship between Regulations and the Development of the Life Insurance Sector
Chrysovalantis Gaganis, Iftekhar Hasan, Fotios Pasiouras
Using a global sample, this study sketches the impact of insurance regulations on the life insurance sector, revealing a significant negative association between supervisory control on policy conditions of life annuities as well as pension products and the development of the industry. A similar inverse relation is observed between the index of capital requirements and insurance development. These results hold when we control for demographic factors, economic factors, religious inclination, culture, as well as for other relevant regulations. We also find some evidence that while the overall supervisory power does not matter, the ability to intervene at an early stage could have a positive effect on insurance development. Additionally, the impact of some regulations appears to differ between advanced and developing countries.
Intangible Capital and Productivity. Firm-level Evidence from German Manufacturing
Wolfhard Kaus, Viktor Slavtchev, Markus Zimmermann
IWH Discussion Papers,
We study the importance of intangible capital (R&D, software, patents) for the measurement of productivity using firm-level panel data from German manufacturing. We first document a number of facts on the evolution of intangible investment over time, and its distribution across firms. Aggregate intangible investment increased over time. However, the distribution of intangible investment, even more so than that of physical investment, is heavily right-skewed, with many firms investing nothing or little, and a few firms having very large intensities. Intangible investment is also lumpy. Firms that invest more intensively in intangibles (per capita or as sales share) also tend to be more productive. In a second step, we estimate production functions with and without intangible capital using recent control function approaches to account for the simultaneity of input choice and unobserved productivity shocks. We find a positive output elasticity for research and development (R&D) and, to a lesser extent, software and patent investment. Moreover, the production function estimates show substantial heterogeneity in the output elasticities across industries and firms. While intangible capital has small effects for firms with low intangible intensity, there are strong positive effects for high-intensity firms. Finally, including intangibles in a gross output production function reduces productivity dispersion (measured by the 90-10 decile range) on average by 3%, in some industries as much as nearly 9%.
Private Debt, Public Debt, and Capital Misallocation
IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers,
Does finance facilitate efficient allocation of resources? Our aim in this paper is to find out whether increases in private and public indebtedness affect capital misallocation, which is measured as the dispersion in the return to capital across firms in different industries. For this, we use a novel dataset containing industrylevel data for 18 European countries and control for different macroeconomic indicators as potential determinants of capital misallocation. We exploit the within-country variation across industries in such indicators as external finance dependence, technological intensity, credit constraints and competitive structure, and find that private debt accumulation disproportionately increases capital misallocation in industries with higher financial dependence, higher R&D intensity, a larger share of credit-constrained firms and a lower level of competition. On the other hand, we fail to find any significant and robust effect of public debt on capital misallocation within our country-sector pairs. We believe the distortionary effects of private debt found in our analysis needs a deeper theoretical investigation.
Bank Overall Financial Strength: Islamic Versus Conventional Banks
Michael Doumpos, Iftekhar Hasan, Fotios Pasiouras
A number of recent studies compare the performance of Islamic and conventional banks with the use of individual financial ratios or efficiency frontier techniques. The present study extends this strand of the literature, by comparing Islamic banks, conventional banks, and banks with an Islamic window with the use of a bank overall financial strength index. This index is developed with a multicriteria methodology that allows us to aggregate various criteria capturing bank capital strength, asset quality, earnings, liquidity, and management quality in controlling expenses. We find that banks differ significantly in terms of individual financial ratios; however, the difference of the overall financial strength between Islamic and conventional banks is not statistically significant. This finding is confirmed with both univariate comparisons and in multivariate regression estimations. When we look at the bank financial strength within regions, we find that conventional banks outperform both the Islamic banks and the banks with Islamic window in the case of Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council; however, Islamic banks perform better in the MENA and Senegal region. Second stage regressions also reveal that the bank overall financial strength index is influenced by various country-specific attributes. These include control of corruption, government effectiveness, and operation in one of the seven countries that are expected to drive the next big wave in Islamic finance.
Returns to Skills around the World: Evidence from PIAAC
Eric A. Hanushek, Guido Schwerdt, Simon Wiederhold, Ludger Woessmann
European Economic Review,
Existing estimates of the labor-market returns to human capital give a distorted picture of the role of skills across different economies. International comparisons of earnings analyses rely almost exclusively on school attainment measures of human capital, and evidence incorporating direct measures of cognitive skills is mostly restricted to early-career workers in the United States. Analysis of the new PIAAC survey of adult skills over the full lifecycle in 23 countries shows that the focus on early-career earnings leads to underestimating the lifetime returns to skills by about one quarter. On average, a one-standard-deviation increase in numeracy skills is associated with an 18 percent wage increase among prime-age workers. But this masks considerable heterogeneity across countries. Eight countries, including all Nordic countries, have returns between 12 and 15 percent, while six are above 21 percent with the largest return being 28 percent in the United States. Estimates are remarkably robust to different earnings and skill measures, additional controls, and various subgroups. Instrumental-variable models that use skill variation stemming from school attainment, parental education, or compulsory-schooling laws provide even higher estimates. Intriguingly, returns to skills are systematically lower in countries with higher union density, stricter employment protection, and larger public-sector shares.
Towards Deeper Financial Integration in Europe: What the Banking Union Can Contribute
Claudia M. Buch, T. Körner, Benjamin Weigert
IWH Discussion Papers,
The agreement to establish a Single Supervisory Mechanism in Europe is a major step towards a Banking Union, consisting of centralized powers for the supervision of banks, the restructuring and resolution of distressed banks, and a common deposit insurance system. In this paper, we argue that the Banking Union is a necessary complement to the common currency and the Internal Market for capital. However, due care needs to be taken that steps towards a Banking Union are taken in the right sequence and that liability and control remain at the same level throughout. The following elements are important. First, establishing a Single Supervisory Mechanism under the roof of the ECB and within the framework of the current EU treaties does not ensure a sufficient degree of independence of supervision and monetary policy. Second, a European institution for the restructuring and resolution of banks should be established and equipped with sufficient powers. Third, a fiscal backstop for bank restructuring is needed. The ESM can play a role but additional fiscal burden sharing agreements are needed. Direct recapitalization of banks through the ESM should not be possible until legacy assets on banks’ balance sheets have been cleaned up. Fourth, introducing European-wide deposit insurance in the current situation would entail the mutualisation of legacy assets, thus contributing to moral hazard.