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Author:Ammer, John 

Working Paper
How consistent are credit ratings? a geographic and sectoral analysis of default risk
We examine differences in default rates by sector and obligor domicile. We find evidence that credit ratings have been imperfectly calibrated across issuer sectors in the past. Controlling for year of issue and rating, default rates appear to be higher for U.S. financial firms than for U.S. industrial firms. Sectoral differences in recovery rates do not offset the higher default rates. By contrast, we do not find significant differences in default rates between U.S. and foreign firms.
AUTHORS: Ammer, John; Packer, Frank
DATE: 2000

Working Paper
Sovereign CDS and bond pricing dynamics in emerging markets: does the cheapest-to-deliver option matter?
We examine the relationships between credit default swap (CDS) premiums and bond yield spreads for nine emerging market sovereign borrowers. We find that these two measures of credit risk deviate considerably in the short run, due to factors such as liquidity and contract specifications, but we estimate a stable long-term equilibrium relationship for most countries. In particular, CDS premiums tend to move more than one-for-one with yield spreads, which we show is broadly consistent with the presence of a significant "cheapest-to-deliver" (CTD) option. In addition, we find a variety of cross-sectional evidence of a CTD option being incorporated into CDS premiums. In our analysis of the short-term dynamics, we find that CDS premiums often move ahead of the bond market. However, we also find that bond spreads lead CDS premiums for emerging market sovereigns more often than has been found for investment-grade corporate credits, consistent with the CTD option impeding CDS liquidity for our riskier set of borrowers. Furthermore, the CDS market is less likely to lead for sovereigns that have issued more bonds, suggesting that the relative liquidity of the two markets is a key determinant of where price discovery occurs.
AUTHORS: Cai, Fang; Ammer, John
DATE: 2007

Working Paper
When is monetary policy effective?
In this paper, we investigate a number of issues that have not been completely addressed in previous studies regarding the possible asymmetric effects of monetary policy. Overall, we interpret our results as weak evidence in favor of sticky-wage and sticky-price theories and strong evidence against credit-rationing theories. First, we find that models that allow for asymmetries with respect to contractionary/expansionary monetary policy fit the data better than models that allow for asymmetries associated with the state of the business cycle. Second, we find that contractionary monetary policy shocks have a much larger effect on output than expansionary policy shocks, although this result is somewhat sensitive to the econometric specification. Finally, we find that monetary policy shocks that occur during economic expansions appear to have about the same effect as shocks that occur during recessions; this result is robust to various econometric specifications.
AUTHORS: Brunner, Allan D.; Ammer, John
DATE: 1995

Working Paper
Home Country Interest Rates and International Investment in U.S. Bonds
We analyze how interest rates affect cross-border portfolio investments. Data on U.S. bond holdings by foreign investors from 31 countries for the period 2003 - 2016 and a large variety in movements in interest rates in these countries provide for a unique way to analyze shifts in investment behavior in response to interest rates. We find that low(er) interest rates, now prevailing in many advanced countries, lead to greater investment in general into the United States, with the effects generally driven by investment in (higher yielding) corporate bonds, rather than in Treasury bonds. In addition to affecting overall investments, lower interest rates at home are associated with a greater weight on corporate bonds, consistent with search- for-yield. The results are economically important and robust to controlling for a number of country-specific macroeconomic and financial conditions as well as to sample restrictions and choices of interest rate. Our findings have important policy implications in that they suggest that low interest rates can lead to shifts in the volume and composition of overseas investments.
AUTHORS: Ammer, John; Claessens, Stijn; Tabova, Alexandra M.; Wroblewski, Caleb
DATE: 2018-06-22

Working Paper
Searching for Yield Abroad : Risk-Taking Through Foreign Investment in U.S. Bonds
The risk-taking effects of low interest rates, now prevailing in many advanced countries, "search-for-yield," can be hard to analyze due to both a paucity of data and challenges in identification. Unique, security-level data on portfolio investment into the United States allow us to overcome both problems. Analyzing holdings of investors from 36 countries in close to 15,000 unique U.S. corporate bonds between 2003 and 2016, we show that declining home-country interest rates lead investors to shift their portfolios toward riskier U.S. corporate bonds, consistent with "search-for-yield". We estimate even stronger effects when home interest rates reach a low level, suggesting that risk-taking further accelerates.
AUTHORS: Ammer, John; Claessens, Stijn; Tabova, Alexandra M.; Wroblewski, Caleb
DATE: 2018-03-28

Working Paper
Are banks market timers or market makers? Explaining foreign exchange trading profits
We analyze the foreign exchange trading earnings of large U.S commercial banks over the past several years. In particular, we use several approaches to try to determine to what extent these profits can be attributed either to position-taking by banks or to the provision of intermediation services to bank customers. The results can be summarized as follows. First, banks appear to generate a substantial portion of their foreign exchange earnings from making markets in conventional spot and forward foreign exchange contracts. In addition, some indirect evidence supports anecdotal reports that intermediation in volatility-related products (e.g., options contracts) has been a significantly profitable activity. Finally, on average, positions in currencies do not appear to contribute to profits. Tests applied to monthly and daily data on banks' portfolio positions suggest that banks cannot accurately forecast changes in exchange rates, and that these currency positions account for only a small fraction (if any) of the banks' foreign exchange earnings.
AUTHORS: Brunner, Allan D.; Ammer, John
DATE: 1994

Working Paper
Strategic returns to international diversification: an application to the equity markets of Europe, Japan, and North America
We undertake a decomposition of the risk factor loadings of fifteen national stock market returns from 1972 to 1990, using a variant of the Campbell-Shiller (1988) linearization. We find considerable variation among countries in the relative importance of a cash flow component and a discount rate component in determining the beta with the world equity index return and with other risk factors. Also, the international heterogeneity we find in factor loadings suggests that a global portfolio allows substantial hedging opportunities, presumably deriving from differences in underlying economic structure.
AUTHORS: Ammer, John; Mei, Jianping
DATE: 1995

Working Paper
Macroeconomic risk and asset pricing: estimating the apt with observable factors
This paper develops and applies a new maximum likelihood method for estimating the Arbitrage Pricing Theory (APT) model with observable risk factors. The approach involves simultaneous estimation of the factor loadings and risk premiums and can be applied to return panel with more securities than time series observations per security. Observable economic factors are found to account for 25 to 40 percent of the covariation in U.S. equity returns, and the APT pricing restrictions cannot be rejected for most sample periods. A significant "firm size anomaly" is measured, but it may be partly due to sample selection bias.
AUTHORS: Ammer, John
DATE: 1993

Working Paper
Why do U.S. cross-listings matter?
This paper investigates the underlying determinants of home bias using a comprehensive sample of U.S. investor holdings of foreign stocks. We document that U.S. cross-listings are economically important, as U.S. ownership in a foreign firm roughly doubles upon cross-listing in the United States. We explore the cross-sectional variation in this "cross-listing effect" and show that increases in U.S. investment are largest in firms from weak accounting backgrounds and in firms that are otherwise informationally opaque, indicating that U.S. investors value the improvements in disclosure associated with cross-listing. We confirm that relative equity valuations rise for cross-listed stocks, and provide evidence suggesting that valuation increases are due in part to increases in U.S. shareholder demand and in part to the fact that the equities become more attractive to non-U.S. shareholders.
AUTHORS: Holland, Sara B.; Ammer, John; Warnock, Francis E.; Smith, David C.
DATE: 2008

Working Paper
Measuring international economic linkages with stock market data
The covariance between domestic and foreign equity return innovations is decomposed into components associated with news about future real and financial variables. In an application to fifteen national stock markets, we find that news about future dividend growth tends to be more highly correlated than contemporaneous output measures, suggesting that there are lags in the international transmission of real economic shocks. In addition, results from a longer sample period suggest that both real and financial linkages between the U.S. and the U.K. appear to have increased after the Bretton Woods currency arrangement was abandoned in the early 1970's.
AUTHORS: Ammer, John; Mei, Jianping
DATE: 1993

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