Archive for the ‘Academic Research’ Category

Real Effects of Frequent Financial Reporting

Posted by R. Christopher Small, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Friday September 19, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Arthur Kraft of Cass Business School, City University London, and Rahul Vashishtha and Mohan Venkatachalam, both of the Accounting Area at Duke University.

In our paper, Real Effects of Frequent Financial Reporting, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we examine the impact of financial reporting frequency on firms’ investment decisions. Whether increased financial reporting frequency improves or adversely influences a manager’s investments decision is ambiguous. On the one hand, increased transparency through higher reporting frequency can beneficially affect firms’ investment decisions in two ways. First, increased transparency can reduce firms’ cost of capital and improve access to external financing, allowing firms to invest in a larger set of positive NPV projects. Second, increased transparency can improve external monitoring and help mitigate over- or under-investment stemming from managerial agency problems. On the other hand, frequent reporting can distort investment decisions. In particular, frequent reporting can cause managers to make myopic investment decisions that boost short-term performance measures at the cost of long run firm value. Which of these two forces dominate is an open empirical question that we explore in this study.

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Race to the Bottom Recalculated: Scoring Corporate Law Over Time

Posted by Brian R. Cheffins, University of Cambridge, on Thursday September 18, 2014 at 9:07 am
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Editor’s Note: Brian Cheffins is Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Cambridge. The following post is based on an article co-authored by Professor Cheffins, Steven A. Bank, Paul Hastings Professor of Business Law at UCLA School of Law, and Harwell Wells, Associate Professor of Law at Temple University Beasley School of Law.

In The Race to the Bottom Recalculated: Scoring Corporate Law Over Time we undertake a pioneering historically-oriented leximetric analysis of U.S. corporate law to provide insights concerning the evolution of shareholder rights. There have previously been studies seeking to measure the pace of change with U.S. corporate law. Our study, which covers from 1900 to the present, is the first to quantify systematically the level of protection afforded to shareholders.

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Window Dressing in Mutual Funds

Posted by R. Christopher Small, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Wednesday September 17, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Vikas Agarwal and Gerald Gay, both of the Department of Finance at Georgia State University, and Leng Ling of the College of Business at Georgia College & State University.

In our paper, Window Dressing in Mutual Funds, forthcoming in the Review of Financial Studies, we investigate an alleged agency problem in the mutual fund industry. This problem involves fund managers attempting to mislead investors about their true ability by trading in such a manner that they disclose at quarter ends disproportionately higher (lower) holdings in stocks that have recently done well (poorly). The portfolio churning associated with this practice of window dressing has potentially damaging effects on both fund value and performance.

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Measuring Price Impact with Investors’ Forward-Looking Information

Posted by Yaron Nili, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Tuesday September 16, 2014 at 9:09 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Aaron Dolgoff and Tiago Duarte-Silva, both of Charles River Associates. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Charles River Associates.

The recent Supreme Court decision in Halliburton brought renewed interest to price impact and event studies. Aside from identification and analysis of the news itself, the event study has three basis steps: (i) Estimate a statistical model (or “market model”) of how the stock price would be expected to change in absence of such news (“predicted price changes”), (ii) Calculate stock price changes in excess of the predicted price changes (“excess price change”), and (iii) Evaluate the statistical significance of the excess price change to distinguish material news from noise, or normal variations in stock prices.

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An IPO’s Impact on Rival Firms

Posted by R. Christopher Small, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Monday September 15, 2014 at 9:04 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Matthew Spiegel, Professor of Finance at Yale University, and Heather Tookes, Professor of Finance at Yale University.

An initial public offering (IPO) is a major event in the life of any firm. But what does an IPO imply for the industry’s future? In our paper, An IPO’s Impact on Rival Firms, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we take a structural approach that allows different industries to progress in different ways post IPO. If one is forced to make a sweeping generalization, then this paper finds an IPO augurs in an era of reduced profits and greater consumer mobility within an industry. Unlike a static model, a structural model’s parameters produce implications about magnitudes rather than just signs. This permits one to assess whether the estimates are economically “reasonable in a straightforward manner.”

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Does Corporate Governance Make Financial Reports Better or Just Better for Equity Investors?

Posted by R. Christopher Small, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Friday September 12, 2014 at 9:00 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Shai Levi of the Department of Accounting at Tel Aviv University, Benjamin Segal of the Department of Accounting at Fordham University and The Hebrew University, and Dan Segal of the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliyah and Singapore Management University. This post is part of the Delaware law series, which is cosponsored by the Forum and Corporation Service Company; links to other posts in the series are available here.

Financial reports should provide useful information to both shareholders and creditors, according to U.S. accounting principles. However, directors of corporations have fiduciary duties only toward equity holders, and those fiduciary duties normally do not extend to the interests of creditors. In our paper, Does Corporate Governance Make Financial Reports Better or Just Better for Equity Investors?, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we examine whether this slant in corporate governance biases financial reports in favor of equity investors. We show that the likelihood that firms will manipulate their reporting to circumvent debt covenants is higher when directors owe fiduciary duties only to equity holders, rather than when they owe fiduciary duties also to creditors. Covenants limit the amount of new debt that the firm issues, for example, and by that reduce bankruptcy risk, and allow creditors to avoid bankruptcy costs, and to recover more from the borrowing firm in case it approaches insolvency. When managers manipulate financial reports to circumvent these debt covenants, they transfer wealth from creditors to shareholders. Our results suggest that when corporate governance is designed to protect only equity holders, firms’ financial reports serve equity holders’ interests at the expense of other stakeholders. We find that when the legal regime requires directors to consider creditors’ interests, firms are less likely to use structured transactions designed to skirt debt covenant limits, particularly if the board of directors of the firm is independent.

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After the Deal: Fannie, Freddie and the Financial Crisis Aftermath

Posted by June Rhee, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Thursday September 11, 2014 at 9:09 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Steven Davidoff Solomon, Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and David T. Zaring, Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

In After the Deal: Fannie, Freddie and the Financial Crisis Aftermath, we offer a solution to the problem of what to do with the profits being made by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the subject of a dispute between the government, which has declared that it will keep those profits, and the shareholders of common and preferred stock left behind after the firms were quasi-nationalized, who have sought, in court, a share of them.

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Rolling Back the Repo Safe Harbors

Posted by Mark Roe, Harvard Law School, on Wednesday September 10, 2014 at 9:02 am
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Editor’s Note: Mark Roe is the David Berg Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches bankruptcy and corporate law. This post is based on an article co-authored by Professor Roe, Ed Morrison, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, and Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi for the District of Delaware. All three are members of the Advisory Committee on Derivatives, Financial Contracts and Safe Harbors, which is working with the ABI Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11. The article was presented at the Federal Reserve’s recent conference on Wholesale Funding Markets.

Ed Morrison, Judge Christopher Sontchi and I recently posted to SSRN our article recommending a major narrowing of the repo safe harbors, after presenting it at the Federal Reserve’s recent conference on Wholesale Funding Markets in which the Boston Fed president warned of the dangers in the repo market. Overall, we conclude that the Bankruptcy Code has aggressively and unwisely sought to regulate market liquidity and systemic risk, with the Code’s “safe harbors” from the normal bankruptcy machinery largely backfiring during the financial crisis. The sounder policy would be to limit the repo safe harbors to U.S. Treasury repos and repos of similarly liquid government securities.

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How Efficient is Sufficient? Securities Litigation Post-Halliburton

Posted by June Rhee, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Tuesday September 9, 2014 at 9:06 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Bradford Cornell at California Institute of Technology.

In its recent decision in Halliburton Co., et al. v Erica P. John Fund, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the legal standard for reliance in Rule 10b-5 securities fraud class actions that it had established some 25 years ago in Basic, Inc. v. Levinson. This standard, known as the fraud-on-the market doctrine, created a rebuttable presumption that plaintiffs relied on the integrity of the market price if they can establish that the market for that security was efficient. Defendants can rebut this presumption in several ways, including showing that the market for the security was not efficient or that the security’s price was not affected by the misrepresentations at issue. In delivering its ruling, the Halliburton Court noted that market efficiency is not a binary, yes-or-no proposition but is instead a matter of degree, pointing out that “a public, material misrepresentation might not affect a stock’s price even in a generally efficient market.” (Halliburton, 573 U.S. ___ at 10.)

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Employee Satisfaction, Labor Market Flexibility, and Stock Returns Around The World

Posted by R. Christopher Small, Co-editor, HLS Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, on Monday September 8, 2014 at 9:16 am
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Editor’s Note: The following post comes to us from Alex Edmans, Professor of Finance at London Business School; and Lucius Li and Chendi Zhang, both of the Finance Group at the University of Warwick.

In our paper, Employee Satisfaction, Labor Market Flexibility, and Stock Returns Around The World, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN at, we study the relationship between employee satisfaction and abnormal stock returns around the world, using lists of the “Best Companies to Work For” in 14 countries.

Theory provides conflicting predictions as to whether employee satisfaction is beneficial or harmful to firm value. On the one hand, employee welfare can be a valuable tool for recruitment, retention, and motivation. For the typical 20th-century firm, the bulk of its value stemmed from its physical capital. In contrast, most modern firms’ key assets are their workers. Employee-friendly policies can attract high-quality workers to a firm and ensure that they remain within the firm, to form a source of sustainable competitive advantage.

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