Shock Propagation and Banking Structure
(with Mariassunta Giannetti) 

Review of Financial Studies (forthcoming)

We explore whether lenders' decisions to provide liquidity in periods of distress are affected by the extent to which they internalize the negative spillovers of industry downturns. We conjecture that high-market-share lenders are more likely to internalize negative spillovers and show that they provide liquidity to industries in distress when fire sales are likely to ensue. High-market-share lenders also provide liquidity to customers and suppliers of distressed industries when the disruption of supply chains is expected to be costly. Our results suggest a novel channel to explain why credit concentration may favor financial stability.

Life Below Zero: Bank Lending Under Negative Policy Rates
(with Florian Heider and Glenn Schepens) 

Review of Financial Studies (forthcoming)

We show that negative policy rates affect the supply of bank credit in a novel way. Banks are reluctant to pass on negative rates to depositors, which increases the funding cost of high-deposit banks, and reduces their net worth, relative to low-deposit banks. As a consequence, the introduction of negative policy rates by the European Central Bank in mid-2014 leads to more risk taking and less lending by euro-area banks with greater reliance on deposit funding. Our results suggest that negative rates are less accommodative, and could pose a risk to financial stability, if lending is done by high-deposit banks.

Informational Inequity Aversion and Performance (with Iris Bohnet) 

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (March 2019)

In labor markets, some individuals have, or believe to have, less data on the determinants of success than others, e.g., due to differential access to technology or role models. We provide experimental evidence on when and how informational differences translate into performance differences. In a laboratory tournament setting, we varied the degree to which individuals were informed about the effort-reward relationship, and whether their competitor received the same or a different amount of information. We find performance is adversely affected only by worse relative, but not absolute, informedness. This suggests that inequity aversion applies not only to outcomes but also to information that helps achieve them, and stresses the importance of inequality in initial information conditions for performance-dependent outcomes.

Do Universal Banks Finance Riskier But More Productive Firms?
(with Daniel Neuhann) 

Journal of Financial Economics (April 2018)

Using variation in bank scope generated by the stepwise repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in the U.S., we show that the deregulation of universal banks allowed them to finance firms with 14% higher volatility. This increase in risk is compensated by lasting improvements in firms' total factor productivity of 3%. Using bank-scope-expanding mergers to identify shocks to universal banks' private information about borrower firms, we provide evidence that informational economies of scope across loans and non-loan products account for the firm-level real effects of universal banking.

Target Revaluation after Failed Takeover Attempts: Cash versus Stock
(with Ulrike Malmendier and Marcus Opp) 

Journal of Financial Economics (January 2016), Jensen Prize for the best paper published in the Journal of Financial Economics in the areas of corporate finance and organizations (first place)

Cash- and stock-financed takeover bids induce strikingly different target revaluations. We exploit detailed data on unsuccessful takeover bids between 1980 and 2008, and we show that targets of cash offers are revalued on average by +15% after deal failure, whereas stock targets return to their pre-announcement levels. The differences in revaluation do not revert over longer horizons. We find no evidence that future takeover activities or operational changes explain these differences. While the targets of failed cash and stock offers are both more likely to be acquired over the following eight years than matched control firms, no differences exist between cash and stock targets, either in the timing or in the value of future offers. Similarly, we cannot detect differential operational policies following the failed bid. Our results are most consistent with cash bids revealing prior undervaluation of the target. We reconcile our findings with the opposite conclusion in earlier literature (Bradley, Desai, and Kim, 1983) by identifying a look-ahead bias built into their sample construction.

Understanding the Gender Pay Gap: What's Competition Got to Do with It? (with Alan Manning) 

Industrial and Labor Relations Review (July 2010)

A number of researchers have argued that men and women have different attitudes toward and behavioral responses to competition; that is, women are more likely to opt out of jobs in which performance pay is the norm. Laboratory experiments suggest that these gender differences are rather large. To check these hypotheses and findings against differences in the field, the authors use performance pay as an indicator of competition in the workplace and compare the gender gap not only in incidence of performance pay but also in earnings and work effort under these contracts. They find that although women are less likely than men to work under performance pay contracts, the gender gap is small. Furthermore, the effect of performance pay on earnings is modest and does not differ markedly by gender. Consequently, the authors argue, the ability of these competition hypotheses to explain the gender pay gap seems very limited.

Working Papers

How Does Firms' Innovation Disclosure Affect Their Banking Relationships? (with Alminas Zaldokas) 

revise & resubmit, Management Science

Firms face a trade-off between patenting, thereby disclosing innovation, and secrecy. We show that this trade-off interacts with firms' financing choices. As a shock to innovation disclosure, we study the American Inventor's Protection Act that made firms' patent applications public 18 months after filing, rather than when granted. We find that such increased innovation disclosure helps firms switch lenders, resulting in lower cost of debt, and facilitates their access to syndicated-loan and public capital markets. Our evidence lends support to the idea that public-information provision through patents and private information in financial relationships are substitutes, and that innovation disclosure makes credit markets more contestable.

Works in Progress

The Effects of Credit Supply on Wage Inequality between and within Firms (with Christian Moser and Benjamin Wirth) 

In this paper, we study the effect of a credit supply shock on the distribution of wages within and between firms. We construct a novel dataset combining administrative linked employer-employee data with information on firms' preexisting bank relationships in the credit market. We use the introduction of negative monetary policy rates in the euro area as a source of variation in banks' credit supply to firms in Germany. We find that this credit supply shock leads to higher within-firm wage inequality at more affected employers. At the same time, we find a reduction in between-firm wage inequality due to relatively higher average wages among initially lower-paying employers. Our results suggest that monetary policy can have important distributional consequences through affecting credit supply and firm pay heterogeneity.

The Effect of Capital Regulation on Asset Allocation in the Insurance Industry (with Bo Becker and Marcus Opp)

This paper identifies the role of capital regulation for long-term asset allocation by institutional investors. We exploit a recent regulatory reform aimed at replacing credit ratings, affecting U.S. insurance companies' capital requirements for mortgage-backed securities (MBS). We argue theoretically and provide empirical evidence that this reform substantially reduces capital requirements for MBS. This, in turn, leads insurers to hold on to these structured securities, and to increase their participation in newly issued high-yield MBS. Following the regulatory reform, the share of insurer holdings in newly issued high-yield MBS increases by at least 16 percentage points. Our findings attest to the importance of regulatory-capital constraints for risk taking by large institutional investors.

Bank Concentration and Product Market Competition
(with Daniel Streitz) 

This paper documents that bank concentration is associated with higher markups and lower output in non-financial sectors. We argue that this is due to the higher incidence of competing firms sharing common lenders. Exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in banks' industry market shares stemming from bank mergers, we show that high-market-share lenders charge lower loan rates. In this manner, common lenders induce less aggressive product market behavior among their competing 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 output externalities would be greatest.

Bank Deregulation and the Rise of Institutional Lending
(with Daniel Neuhann) 

We study the determinants of increased participation of non-bank financial intermediaries in the market for syndicated loans prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Institutional investors who do not have monitoring expertise disproportionately purchase loan tranches originated by banks able to offer both loans and underwriting services to firms. Our argument is that non-loan exposures to firm performance ensure monitoring incentives even when banks retain small loan shares. Since such universal banking was permitted only after the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, our findings suggest a direct link from bank deregulation to the rise of non-bank intermediaries.

Informal Finance, Risk Sharing, and Networks: Evidence from Hunter-Gatherers 

This paper analyzes the relationship between informal finance and the risk-sharing properties of networks. I show that in addition to sharing idiosyncratic risk, network members can also support one another in dealing with aggregate shocks. To identify this, I use data from an Amazonian foraging-farming society, and exploit a flood shock in 2006. Villagers outside the network demanded significantly more credit following the flood than did network members, suggesting that networks allow their members to cope with aggregate shocks through non-financial resources rather than through costly loans. The increased credit demand by villagers outside the network was in turn served through a temporary extension of network benefits across the two groups.

Inequality, Relative Income, and Human Capital Investment
(with Jere Behrman, Ricardo Godoy, and Eduardo Undurraga) 

Do investment responses to income transfers depend on the implied level of redistribution because of social comparisons? In a field experiment in 53 villages of an Amazonian foraging-farming society, we allocated substantial in-kind transfers, varied their associated degree of village income inequality, and measured the short-run effects on individual-level determinants of development. We find that the poorest households invested significantly less in human capital and engaged less with the labor market under an inequality-reducing treatment than under income-distribution neutrality. Our evidence suggests that inequality shapes the development process through social comparisons, and has implications for the effectiveness of transfer programs.