In September 2008, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) temporarily banned most short sales in nearly 1,000 financial stocks. In our paper, Shackling Short Sellers: The 2008 Shorting Ban, forthcoming in the Review of Financial Studies, we examine the ban’s effect on market quality, shorting activity, the aggressiveness of short sellers, and stock prices. For the most part, financial economists consider short sellers to be the “good guys,” unearthing overvalued companies and contributing to efficient stock prices. Even as late as the summer of 2007, regulators in the United States seemed to share this view, as they made life easier for short sellers by repealing the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE’s) uptick rule and other short-sale price tests that had impeded shorting activity since the Great Depression (see Boehmer, Jones, and Zhang (2009) for an analysis of this event). However, short sellers are often the scapegoats when share prices fall sharply, and regulators in the United States did a sharp U-turn in 2008, imposing tight new restrictions on short sellers as the financial crisis worsened. In September 2008, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) surprised the investment community by adopting an emergency order that temporarily banned most short sales in nearly 1,000 financial stocks. In this paper, we study changes in various liquidity measures, the rate of short sales, the aggressiveness of short sellers, and in stock prices before, during, and after the shorting ban. We compare banned stocks to a control group of nonbanned stocks to identify these effects.
Posts Tagged ‘Liquidity’
The recent financial crisis has rekindled interest in the relationship between the structure of the financial network and systemic risk. Two polar views on this relationship have been suggested in the academic literature and the policy world. The first maintains that the “incompleteness” of the financial network can be a source of instability, as individual banks are overly exposed to the liabilities of a handful of financial institutions. Thus, according to this argument, a more complete financial network, which limits the exposure of the banks to any one counterparty would be less prone to systemic failures. The second view, in stark contrast, hypothesizes that it is the highly interconnected nature of the financial system that contributes to its fragility, as it facilitates the spread of financial distress and solvency problems from one bank to the rest in an epidemic-like fashion.
In our recent NBER working paper, Systemic Risk and Stability in Financial Networks, my co-authors (Asuman Ozdaglar of MIT and Alireza Tahbaz-Salehi of Columbia Business School) and I provide a tractable theoretical framework for the study of the economic forces shaping the relationship between the structure of the financial network and systemic risk. We show that as long as the magnitude (or the number) of negative shocks is below a critical threshold, a more equal distribution of interbank obligations leads to less fragility. In particular, all else equal, the sparsely connected ring financial network (corresponding to a credit chain) is the most fragile of all configurations, whereas the highly interconnected complete financial network is the configuration least prone to contagion. In line with the observations made by Allen and Gale (2000), our results establish that, in the more complete networks, the losses of a distressed bank are passed to a larger number of counterparties, guaranteeing a more efficient use of the excess liquidity in the system in forestalling defaults.
In our paper, Looking in the Rear View Mirror: The Effect of Managers’ Professional Experience on Corporate Cash Holdings, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we study the role of managers’ professional experience in financial decision making, focusing on one of the most debated corporate policies in recent years – cash savings.
We focus our analysis on corporate cash policies because firms hold unprecedented, increasing levels of cash. In 1980, firms held $234.6 billion (in 2011 dollars) in cash, amounting to 12% of assets. By 2011, the amount of cash grew to $1,500 billion, or 22% of assets. The predominant approach to understanding corporate cash holdings is the precautionary savings motive. According to this motive, firms hold liquid assets to hedge against future states of nature in which adverse cash flow shocks, coupled with external finance frictions, may lead to underinvestment or default. While prior research shows that the precautionary savings motive explains much of the cash policy of firms, some suggest that managers are overly conservative in their decision to hold high levels of cash.
Motivated by psychological evidence, which shows that past experience affects individual decision-making, we argue that managers may behave conservatively because they experienced financial difficulties in their professional career. To test this hypothesis, we collect detailed data on managers’ employment histories and construct four measures of experience at firms that faced financial difficulties. These measures capture financial constraints and adverse shocks to cash flows and stock returns. To separate firm and CEO effects, the measures are based on prior employment at other firms.
In the paper, Mandatory Financial Reporting Environment and Voluntary Disclosure: Evidence from Mandatory IFRS Adoption, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we investigate the interaction between mandatory financial reporting environment and voluntary disclosure by employing the mandatory adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in 2005 as an exogenous increase to mandatory reporting to examine changes in firms’ voluntary disclosure practices. To measure voluntary disclosure, we focus on a discretionary action, namely the extent to which managers provide earnings forecasts, the most prominent performance measure that a firm supplies to investors. Ex-ante, it is unclear how the increase in reporting quality following the mandatory adoption of IFRS could influence management forecasts. On the one hand, mandatory financial reporting and voluntary disclosure can be complements, wherein the former produces verifiable information that improves the credibility of the latter and therefore encourages managers to issue more forecasts, i.e. the confirmatory role of mandatory reporting.
Prior studies document improved reporting quality following IFRS adoption, evidenced by earnings with lower manipulation and higher value relevance, timeliness, and information content. Therefore, given the evidence that IFRS improves the verifiability of earnings, the complementary view suggests that the mandatory adoption of IFRS should increase management forecasts. On the other hand, mandatory financial reporting and voluntary disclosure could also be substitutes, as private information that was previously conveyed through voluntary disclosure is now directly reflected in mandatory financial reports. Since IFRS produces more timely and value-relevant earnings numbers, the substitution effect predicts that the increased quality of financial reporting may reduce the demand for supplementary information from investors to predict future earnings. Therefore, IFRS adoption may also lead to fewer management forecasts.
Following closely on the heels of Federal Reserve Governor Daniel K. Tarullo’s November 2012 speech, the Federal Reserve has proposed a tiered approach for applying U.S. capital, liquidity and other Dodd-Frank enhanced prudential standards, including single counterparty credit limits, risk management, stress testing and early remediation requirements, to the U.S. operations of foreign banking organizations with total global consolidated assets of $50 billion or more (“Large FBOs”). Most Large FBOs would have to create a separately capitalized top-tier U.S. intermediate holding company (“IHC”) that would hold all U.S. bank and nonbank subsidiaries. A Large FBO with combined U.S. assets of less than $10 billion, excluding its U.S. branch and agency assets, would not be required to form an IHC.
The IHC would be subject to U.S. capital, liquidity and other enhanced prudential standards on a consolidated basis. In addition, the Federal Reserve would have the authority to examine any IHC and any subsidiary of an IHC. Although the U.S. branches and agencies of a Large FBO’s foreign bank would not be required to be held beneath the IHC, they too would be subject to liquidity, single counterparty credit limits and, in certain circumstances, asset maintenance requirements. Large FBOs not required to form an IHC would also be subject to many of the new enhanced prudential standards.
This memorandum provides an overview of key aspects of the Federal Reserve’s proposal, which would become effective on July 1, 2015. We invite you to also read the accompanying diagrams and tables for a visual representation of these new requirements, available here. The comment period for the proposal ends on March 31, 2013.
In autumn 2008 the developed world’s banking system suffered a severe crisis. In response the world’s regulators and central banks have focused on building a more stable banking system for the future: less leveraged, more liquid, better supervised and with even the largest banks able to be resolved without taxpayer’s support. The implementation of that bank-focused regulatory agenda is still unfinished, but much progress has been made.
Looking back to the year 2007/08, however, it’s striking that the crisis did not at first look like a traditional banking crisis, but rather one related to a new phenomenon: shadow banking. Initially the problems seemed concentrated in the US, where the development of non-bank credit intermediation was most advanced, and many of the events which marked the developing crisis related to non-bank institutions and markets.
In our paper, Mandatory IFRS Reporting and Changes in Enforcement, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we examine the underlying sources of the capital-market benefits around the introduction of mandatory IFRS reporting. Prior work finds significant capital market benefits and also shows that the effects around IFRS adoption are significantly stronger in countries with stricter and better functioning legal systems, and that they are stronger in the EU than in other regions of the world. We argue that this evidence is consistent with several interpretations and that it is still an open question to what extent these positive effects around mandatory IFRS adoption are indeed attributable to the switch to arguably better, more capital-market oriented, and globally harmonized accounting standards.
We focus on market liquidity and rely on within- and across-country variation in the timing of IFRS adoption and of other institutional changes to disentangle several possible explanations. Specifically, we explore whether (i) the switch from local GAAP to IFRS reporting played a primary role for the observed capital-market benefits; (ii) the introduction of IFRS had capital-market benefits, but only in countries with strong institutions and legal enforcement; or (iii) the switch to IFRS reporting itself had little or no effect and, instead, concurrent changes to countries’ institutions drive the observed capital-market benefits.
Reductions in the liquidity and valuation of securities traded in global capital markets during the recent financial crisis have demonstrated the importance of understanding more fully the drivers of a firm’s stock market liquidity and associated linkages to valuation. In the paper, Transparency, Liquidity, and Valuation: International Evidence on When Transparency Matters Most, forthcoming in the Journal of Accounting Research,” we examine whether reduced transparency is associated with increased transaction costs and lower liquidity in a firm’s shares and, therefore, increased cost of capital and reduced valuation. We also investigate the extent to which the relation between transparency and liquidity is influenced by institutional and firm-level factors and by time series variation in uncertainty.
Our sample includes 97,799 firm-year observations across 46 countries over the period 1994–2007. In our first set of tests, we relate transparency to transaction costs and stock market liquidity. To measure transparency, we employ several firm-choice variables from prior cross-country research including earnings management (Fan and Wong (2002) and Leuz, Nanda, and Wysocki (2003)), auditor quality (Fan and Wong (2005)), and adoption of global accounting standards (Daske, Hail, Leuz and Verdi (2008, 2009)). We also employ two transparency variables that capture external information gathering by intermediaries: the number of analysts who cover a firm and the accuracy of analyst forecasts.
The Federal Reserve on December 20 issued its proposal to implement heightened prudential requirements for the largest US financial institutions as a result of the ongoing financial crisis. These institutions will have to design and implement compliance, recordkeeping and reporting procedures for the new standards in addition to the multitude of new restrictions imposed by such reforms as the Volcker Rule. The following summarizes the new proposal, identifies the portions applicable to various types of covered financial institutions and outlines the various requirements applicable to each type. Covered institutions may take some solace, though perhaps not much, in the fact that many of the requirements are consistent with emerging international standards for supervision of large financial companies.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”) requires that the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“Federal Reserve”) impose enhanced supervisory requirements on the largest bank holding companies – in general, those with at least $50 billion, but with respect to certain requirements, those with at least $10 billion assets – and those nonbank financial companies designated as requiring supervision as though they were bank holding companies.  The Federal Reserve’s proposal (the “Proposal”) provides detail on how several of the requirements would be implemented.  Comments are due by March 31, 2012.
On October 11, 2011, the Financial Stability Oversight Council unanimously approved a second notice of proposed rulemaking and related interpretive guidance under the Dodd-Frank Act regarding the designation of systemically important “nonbank financial companies.” The new proposal, which was published in today’s Federal Register, describes the manner in which the Council proposes to apply the relevant statutory standards and the processes and procedures it intends to employ in carrying out its authority to designate systemically important nonbank financial companies. These designated companies are required to comply with enhanced prudential standards and are subject to consolidated supervision by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Comments on the Council’s proposal are due by December 19, 2011.
Among the nonbank financial companies potentially subject to a systemically important designation by the Council are savings and loan holding companies, insurance companies, private equity firms, hedge funds, asset management companies, financial guarantors, and other U.S. and non-U.S. nonbank companies deemed to be “engaged primarily” in activities that are financial in nature.