SOX after Ten Years: A Multidisciplinary Review
We review and assess research findings from 120+ papers in accounting, finance, and law to evaluate the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. We describe significant developments in how the Act was implemented and find that despite severe criticism, the Act and institutions it created have survived almost intact since enactment. We report survey findings from informed parties that suggest that the Act has produced financial reporting benefits. While the direct costs of the Act were substantial and fell disproportionately on smaller companies, costs have fallen over time and in response to changes in its implementation. Research about indirect costs such as loss of risk taking in the U.S. is inconclusive. The evidence for and social welfare implications of claimed effects such as fewer IPOs or loss of foreign listings are unclear. Financial reporting quality appears to have gone up after SOX but research on causal attribution is weak. On balance, research on the Act's net social welfare remains inconclusive. We end by outlining challenges facing research in this area, and propose an agenda for better modeling costs and benefits of financial regulation.
Keywords: Crime and Corruption;
Laws and Statutes;
Do Measures of Financial Constraints Measure Financial Constraints?
Financial constraints are not directly observable, so empirical research relies on indirect measures. We evaluate how well five popular measures (paying dividends, having a credit rating, and the Kaplan-Zingales, Whited-Wu, and Hadlock-Pierce indices) identify firms that are financially constrained, using three novel tests: an exogenous increase in a firm's demand for credit, exogenous variation in the supply of bank loans, and the tendency for firms to pay out the proceeds of equity issues to their shareholders ("equity recycling"). We find that none of the five measures identifies firms that behave as if they were constrained: public firms classified as constrained have no trouble raising debt when their demand for debt increases, are unaffected by changes in the supply of bank loans, and engage in equity recycling. The point estimates are little different for supposedly constrained and unconstrained firms, even though we find important differences in their characteristics and sources of financing. On the other hand, privately held firms (particularly small ones) and public firms with below investment-grade ratings appear to be financially constrained.
Financial Services Industry;
The Costs of Favoritism: Is Politically-Driven Aid Less Effective?
As is now well documented, aid is given for both political as well as economic reasons. The conventional wisdom is that politically motivated aid is less effective in promoting developmental objectives. We examine the ex-post performance ratings of World Bank projects and generally find that projects that are potentially politically motivated—such as those granted to governments holding a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council or an Executive Directorship at the World Bank—are no more likely, on average, to get a negative quality rating than other projects. When aid is given to Security Council members with higher short-term debt, however, a negative quality rating is more likely. So we find evidence that World Bank project quality suffers as a consequence of political influence only when the recipient country is economically vulnerable in the first place.
Keywords: World Bank;
United Nations Security Council;
Prejudice and Bias;
Outcome or Result;
Government and Politics;
Power and Influence;
Frictions in Shadow Banking: Evidence from the Lending Behavior of Money Market Funds
We document the consequences of money market fund risk taking during the European sovereign debt crisis. Using a novel data set of security-level holdings of prime money market funds, we show that funds with large exposures to risky Eurozone banks suffered significant outflows between June and August 2011. Due to credit market frictions, these outflows have significant spillover effects on other firms: non-European issuers that typically rely on these funds raise less financing in this period. The results are not driven by issuers' riskiness or exposure to Europe: for the same issuer, money market funds with greater exposure to Eurozone banks decrease their holdings more than other funds. We show that relationships are important in short-term credit markets so that these spillover effects cannot be seamlessly offset, even though issuers are large, highly rated firms. Our results illustrate that instabilities associated with money market funds persist despite recent changes to the regulations governing them.
Keywords: Financial Crisis;
Borrowing and Debt;
Banks and Banking;
Financial Services Industry;
Corporate Ownership Structure and the Choice Between Bank Debt and Public Debt
This paper examines the relation between a borrowing firm's ownership structure and its choice of debt source using a novel, hand-collected data set on corporate ownership, control, and debt structures for 9,831 firms in 20 countries from 2001 to 2010. We find that the divergence between control rights and cash-flow rights of a borrowing firm's largest ultimate owner has a significant impact on the firm's choice between bank debt and public debt. A one-standard-deviation increase in the divergence reduces the borrowing firm's reliance on bank debt financing as measured by the ratio of bank debt to total debt by approximately 23% and increases its reliance on public debt financing as measured by the ratio of public debt to total debt by approximately 18%. The effect of the control-ownership divergence on borrowing firms' debt choice is more pronounced for firms with high financial distress risk, firms that are informationally opaque, and firms that are family controlled. Moreover, this effect is weakened by the presence of multiple large owners and in countries with strong shareholder rights. Overall, our results are consistent with the hypothesis that firms controlled by large shareholders with excess control rights choose public debt financing over bank debt as a way of avoiding scrutiny and insulating themselves from bank monitoring.
Borrowing and Debt;
Learning and the Disappearing Association Between Governance and Returns
The correlation between governance indices and abnormal returns documented for 1990–1999 subsequently disappeared. The correlation and its disappearance are both due to market participants' gradually learning to appreciate the difference between good-governance and poor-governance firms. Consistent with learning, the correlation's disappearance was associated with increases in market participants' attention to governance; market participants and security analysts were, until the beginning of the 2000s but not subsequently, more positively surprised by the earning announcements of good-governance firms; and, although governance indices no longer generated abnormal returns during the 2000s, their negative association with firm value and operating performance persisted.
Keywords: Corporate Governance;
The Growth of Finance
The U.S. financial services industry grew from 4.9% of GDP in 1980 to 7.9% of GDP in 2007. A sizeable portion of the growth can be explained by rising asset management fees, which in turn were driven by increases in the valuation of tradable assets, particularly equity. Another important factor was growth in fees associated with an expansion in household credit, particularly for residential mortgages. This expansion was itself fueled by the development of non-bank credit intermediation (or "shadow banking"). Whether the growth of the financial sector has been socially beneficial depends on one's view of active asset management, the increase in household credit, and the growth of shadow banking. While recognizing some of the benefits of professional asset management, we are skeptical about the marginal value of active asset management. We then raise concerns about whether the potential benefits of increased access to household credit—the main output of the shadow banking system—are outweighed by the risks inherent in this new approach to credit delivery.
Keywords: Asset Management;
Financial Services Industry;
Greenwood, Robin, and David S. Scharfstein. "The Growth of Finance
." Journal of Economic Perspectives
27, no. 2 (Spring 2013): 3–28.
The Investment Strategies of Sovereign Wealth Funds
This paper examines the direct private equity investment strategies across sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and their relationship to the funds' organizational structures. SWFs seem to engage in a form of trend chasing, since they are more likely to invest at home when domestic equity prices are higher and invest abroad when foreign prices are higher. Funds see the industry P/E ratios of their home investments drop in the year after the investment, while they have a positive change in the year after their investments abroad. SWFs where politicians are involved have a much greater likelihood of investing at home than those where external managers are involved. At the same time, SWFs with external managers tend to invest in lower P/E industries, which see an increase in the P/E ratios in the year after the investment. By way of contrast, funds with politicians involved invest in higher P/E industries, which have a negative valuation change in the year after the investment.
Keywords: Sovereign Finance;
From Social Control to Financial Economics: The Linked Ecologies of Economics and Business in Twentieth Century America
This article draws on historical material to examine the co-evolution of economic science and business education over the course of the twentieth century, showing that fields evolve not only through internal struggles but also through struggles taking place in adjacent fields. More specifically, we argue that the scientific strategies of business schools played an essential—if largely invisible and poorly understood—role in major transformations in the organization and substantive direction of social-scientific knowledge, and specifically economic knowledge, in twentieth century America. We use the Wharton School as an illustration of the earliest trends and dilemmas (c. 1900–1930), when business schools found themselves caught between their business connections and their striving for moral legitimacy in higher education. Next, we look at the creation of the Carnegie Tech Graduate School of Industrial Administration after World War II. This episode illustrates the increasingly successful claims of social scientists, backed by philanthropic foundations, on business education and the growing appeal of "scientific" approaches to decision making and management. Finally, we argue that the rise of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago from the 1960s onwards (and its closely related cousin at the University of Rochester) marks the decisive ascendancy of economics, and particularly financial economics, in business education over the other behavioral disciplines. We document the key role of these institutions in diffusing "Chicago-style" economic approaches—offering support for deregulatory policies and popularizing narrowly financial understandings of the firm—that sociologists have described as characteristic of the modern neo-liberal regime.
Carry Trade, Reserve Accumulation, and Exchange-Rate Regimes
Carry-trade activity and foreign participation in local-currency-bond markets in emerging countries have increased dramatically over the past decade. In light of these trends, we revisit the question of the optimal exchange-rate regime when developing countries can borrow internationally with local-currency-denominated debt. We find that, as local-currency-bond markets develop, a "pseudo-flexible regime," whereby a country accumulates reserves in conjunction with debt, to be the best policy alternative under real external shocks for emerging nations.
Keywords: carry trade;
Currency Exchange Rate;
Developing Countries and Economies;