Kevin Lewis

December 09, 2015

What Are We Meeting For? The Consequences of Private Meetings with Investors

David Solomon & Eugene Soltes
Journal of Law & Economics, May 2015, Pages 325-355

Regulation Fair Disclosure was passed in 2000 in response to the concern that certain investors were gaining selective access to privileged firm information. In spite of the passage of this regulation, some investors continue to meet privately with executives. Using a unique set of proprietary records of all one-on-one meetings between senior management and investors for a New York Stock Exchange-traded firm, we investigate the impact of private meetings on investor decisions. We find that when investors meet privately with management they make more informed trading decisions. This improvement in trading is concentrated in hedge funds, but is not present for investment advisors or pension funds. Overall, our results suggest that private meetings help a select group of investors make more informed trading decisions.


Anticipating the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis: Who Knew What and When Did They Know It?

Biljana Adebambo, Paul Brockman & Xuemin (Sterling) Yan
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, August 2015, Pages 647-669

We examine the ability of three groups of informed market participants to anticipate the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Institutional investors and financial analysts exhibit some awareness of the impending crisis in their preference for nonfinancial stocks over financial stocks. In contrast, corporate insiders of financial firms appear to be completely unaware of the timing and extent of the financial crisis. Net purchases by managers of financial firms exceed those by managers of nonfinancial firms over the entire 2006-2008 period. Our results add considerable weight to the argument that the financial crisis was more a case of flawed judgment than flawed incentives.


Bubble Investing: Learning from History

William Goetzmann
NBER Working Paper, October 2015

History is important to the study of financial bubbles precisely because they are extremely rare events, but history can be misleading. The rarity of bubbles in the historical record makes the sample size for inference small. Restricting attention to crashes that followed a large increase in market level makes negative historical outcomes salient. In this paper I examine the frequency of large, sudden increases in market value in a broad panel data of world equity markets extending from the beginning of the 20th century. I find the probability of a crash conditional on a boom is only slightly higher than the unconditional probability. The chances that a market gave back it gains following a doubling in value are about 10%. In simple terms, bubbles are booms that went bad. Not all booms are bad.


Compensating Financial Experts

Vincent Glode & Richard Lowery
Journal of Finance, forthcoming

We propose a labor market model in which financial firms compete for a scarce supply of workers who can be employed as either bankers or traders. While hiring bankers helps create a surplus that can be split between a firm and its trading counterparties, hiring traders helps the firm appropriate a greater share of that surplus away from its counterparties. Firms bid defensively for workers bound to become traders, who then earn more than bankers. As counterparties employ more traders, the benefit of employing bankers decreases. The model sheds light on the historical evolution of compensation in finance.


Regulation and Market Liquidity

Francesco Trebbi & Kairong Xiao
NBER Working Paper, November 2015

The aftermath of the 2008-09 U.S. financial crisis has been characterized by regulatory intervention of unprecedented scale. Although the necessity of a realignment of incentives and constraints of financial markets participants became a shared posterior after the near collapse of the U.S. financial system, considerable doubts have been subsequently raised on the welfare consequences of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 and its various subcomponents, such as the Volcker Rule. The possibility of permanently inhibiting the market making capacity of large banks, with dire consequences in terms of under-provision of market liquidity, has been repeatedly raised. This paper presents systematic evidence from four different estimation strategies of the absence of breakpoints in market liquidity for fixed-income asset classes and across multiple liquidity measures, with special attention given to the corporate bond market. The analysis is performed without imposing restrictions on the exact dating of breaks (i.e. allowing for anticipatory response or lagging reactions to regulation) and focusing both on levels and dynamic latent factors. We report both single breakpoint and multiple breakpoint tests and analyze the liquidity of corporate bonds matched to their main underwriters making markets on those assets. Post-crisis U.S. regulatory intervention does not appear to have produced structural deteriorations in market liquidity.


Cost of Experimentation and the Evolution of Venture Capital

Michael Ewens, Ramana Nanda & Matthew Rhodes-Kropf
Harvard Working Paper, October 2015

We study adaptation by financial intermediaries as a response to technological change in the context venture-capital finance. Using a theoretical model and rich data, we are able to both document and provide a framework to understand the changes in the investment strategy of VCs in recent years - an increased prevalence of investors who "spray and pray" - providing a little funding and limited governance to an increased number of startups that they are more likely to abandon, but where early experiments significantly inform beliefs about the future potential of the venture. We also highlight how this adaptation by financial intermediaries has altered the trajectory of aggregate innovation away from complex technologies where initial experiments cost more towards those where information on future prospects is revealed quickly and cheaply.


The Fetal Origins Hypothesis in Finance: Prenatal Environment, the Gender Gap, and Investor Behavior

Henrik Cronqvist et al.
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

We find that differences in individuals' prenatal environment explain heterogeneity in financial decisions later in life. An exogenous increase in exposure to prenatal testosterone is associated with the masculinization of financial behavior, specifically with elevated risk taking and trading in adulthood. We also examine birth weight. Those with higher birth weight are more likely to participate in the stock market, whereas those with lower birth weight tend to prefer portfolios with higher volatility and skewness, consistent with compensatory behavior. Our results contribute to the understanding of how the prenatal environment shapes an individual's behavior in financial markets later in life.


Do markets reveal preferences or shape them?

Andrea Isoni et al.
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming

We contrast the proposition that markets reveal independently-existing preferences with the alternative possibility that they may help to shape them. Using demand-revealing experimental market institutions, we separate the shaping effects of price cues from the effects of market discipline. We find that individual valuations and prevailing prices are systematically affected by both exogenous manipulations of price expectations and endogenous but divergent price feedback. These effects persist to varying degrees, in spite of further market experience. In some circumstances, market experience may actually consolidate them. We discuss possible explanations for these effects of uninformative price cues on revealed preferences.


The accuracy of disclosures for complex estimates: Evidence from reported stock option fair values

Brian Bratten, Ross Jennings & Casey Schwab
Accounting, Organizations and Society, forthcoming

In this study, we exploit the unique reporting requirements for employee stock options to provide large sample evidence on the accuracy of footnote disclosures related to a specific complex estimate, the fair value of options granted. We first document the frequency and magnitude of differences between (1) the reported weighted-average fair value of options granted and (2) the calculated option fair value using the disclosed weighted-average valuation model inputs and the Black-Scholes option pricing model. In a sample of 23,358 firm-year observations between 2004 and 2011, we find that 23.9 percent have reported and calculated option fair values that differ by more than ten percent, and that these differences are sticky and are frequently significant as a percentage of net income. We also find that fair value differences are larger for firms that (1) exhibit anomalous stock option footnote disclosures that likely result from disclosure errors, (2) have more complex and hence error-prone stock option programs, and (3) have lower quality financial reporting. Taken together this evidence is consistent with large fair value differences that are primarily due to unintentional errors in the stock option footnote disclosures. To document the consequences of these fair value differences, we provide evidence that errors in the reported fair values prevent financial statement users from using the reported values to reliably estimate future stock option expense for many firms. Consistent with this result, we also find that analyst forecasts are less accurate and more dispersed for firms with larger fair value differences.


Mutual Forbearance and Competition Among Security Analysts

Joel Baum, Anne Bowers & Partha Mohanram
Management Science, forthcoming

Research in industrial organization and strategic management has shown that rivals competing with each other in multiple markets are more willing to show each other mutual forbearance, i.e., compete less aggressively, within their spheres of influence, i.e., the markets in which each firm dominates. Sell-side equity analysts typically cover multiple stocks in common with their rivals. We examine the impact of this "multipoint contact" for mutual forbearance on two key dimensions of competition among security analysts: forecast accuracy and information leadership (issuing earnings forecasts or stock recommendations that influence rival analysts). We find that multipoint contact is associated with analysts exerting greater information leadership on stocks within their own spheres of influence. We also find greater forbearance related to information leadership under Regulation Fair Disclosure (Reg FD). In contrast, multipoint contact was not associated with greater forecast accuracy on stocks within analysts' spheres of influence, either before or under Reg FD. Our analysis is among the first to consider mechanisms of competition among securities analysts and also adds to the literature on Reg FD by demonstrating that the increased workload imposed on analysts after Reg FD fostered mutual forbearance as a response.


You're Fired! New Evidence on Portfolio Manager Turnover and Performance

Leonard Kostovetsky & Jerold Warner
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, August 2015, Pages 729-755

We study managerial turnover for both internally managed mutual funds and those managed externally by subadvisors. We argue that turnover of subadvisors provides sharper tests and helps address several unresolved issues and puzzles from the previous literature. We find dramatically stronger inverse relations between subadvisor departures and lagged returns, and new evidence on how past flow predicts turnover. We find no evidence of improvements in return performance related to departures, but flow improvements are associated with departures of poor past performers. Our findings represent new evidence on how investors, sponsors, and boards learn about and evaluate mutual fund management performance.


Asset Pricing When Traders Sell Extreme Winners and Losers

Li An
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming

This study investigates the asset pricing implications of a newly documented refinement of the disposition effect, characterized by investors being more likely to sell a security when the magnitude of their gains or losses on it increases. I find that stocks with both large unrealized gains and large unrealized losses outperform others in the following month (trading strategy monthly alpha = 0.5-1%, Sharpe ratio = 1.5). This supports the conjecture that these stocks experience higher selling pressure, leading to lower current prices and higher future returns. Overall, this study provides new evidence that investors' trading behavior can aggregate to affect equilibrium price dynamics.


Inflation Illusion and Stock Returns

William Brown, Dayong Huang & Fang Wang
Journal of Empirical Finance, January 2016, Pages 14-24

A large sensitivity of stocks' earnings yield to inflation suggests that the value of these stocks is highly influenced by inflation illusion. We construct an inflation illusion factor by buying stocks with large earnings yield sensitivities on inflation and selling stocks with small earnings yield sensitivities on inflation. This factor has a return of approximately 5% per year and is priced in the cross sectional asset returns. Low asset growth stocks have greater exposure to the inflation illusion factor than their counterparts, and they are also underpriced at times of high inflation. Our results are robust for a number of controls.


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