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Author:Benzoni, Luca 

Working Paper
Asymmetric Information, Dynamic Debt Issuance, and the Term Structure of Credit Spreads

We propose a tractable model of a firm?s dynamic debt and equity issuance policies in the presence of asymmetric information. Because ?investment-grade? firms can access debt markets, managers who observe a bad private signal can both conceal this information and shield shareholders from infusing capital into the firm by issuing new debt to service existing debt, thus avoiding default. The implication is that the ?asymmetric information channel? can generate jumps to default (from the creditors? perspective) only for those "high-yield" firms that have exhausted their ability to borrow. ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2019-8

Working Paper
Estimating the Tax and Credit-Event Risk Components of Credit Spreads

This paper argues that tax liabilities explain a large fraction of observed short-maturity investment-grade (IG) spreads, but credit-event premia do not. First, we extend Duffie and Lando (2001) by permitting management to issue both debt and equity. Rather than defaulting, managers of IG firms who receive bad private signals conceal this information and service existing debt via new debt issuance. Consistent with empirical observation, this strategy implies that IG firms have virtually zero credit-event risk (at least until they become ?fallen angels"). Second, we provide empirical evidence ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2017-17

Working Paper
The Interplay Between Financial Conditions and Monetary Policy Shocks

We study the interplay between monetary policy and financial conditions shocks. Such shocks have a significant and similar impact on the real economy, though with different degrees of persistence. The systematic fed funds rate response to a financial shock contributes to bringing the economy back towards trend, but a zero lower bound on policy rates can prevent this from happening, with a significant cost in terms of output and investment. In a retrospective analysis of the U.S. economy over the past 20 years, we decompose the realization of economic variables into the contributions of ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2016-11

Working Paper
Portfolio choice over the life-cycle when the stock and labor markets are cointegrated

We study portfolio choice when labor income and dividends are cointegrated. Economically plausible calibrations suggest young investors should take substantial short positions in the stock market. Because of cointegration the young agent's human capital effectively becomes.
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-07-11

Working Paper
The Value and Risk of Human Capital

Human capital embodies the knowledge, skills, health and values that contribute to making people productive. These qualities, however, are hard to measure, and quantitative studies of human capital are typically based on the valuation of the lifetime income that a person generates in the labor market. This article surveys the theoretical and empirical literature that models a worker?s life-cycle earnings and identifies appropriate discount rates to translate those cash flows into a certainty equivalent of wealth. This paper begins with an overview of a stylized model of human capital ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2015-6

Why Does the Yield-Curve Slope Predict Recessions?

Many studies document the predictive power of the slope of the Treasury yield curve for forecasting recessions.2 This work is motivated, for example, by the empirical evidence in figure 1, which shows the term-structure slope, measured by the spread between the yields on ten-year and two-year U.S. Treasury securities, and shading that denotes U.S. recessions (dated by the National Bureau of Economic Research). Note that the yield-curve slope becomes negative before each economic recession since the 1970s.3 That is, an ?inversion? of the yield curve, in which short-maturity interest rates ...
Chicago Fed Letter

Working Paper
Modeling credit contagion via the updating of fragile beliefs

We propose a tractable equilibrium model for pricing defaultable bonds that are subject to contagion risk. Contagion arises because agents with ?fragile beliefs? are uncertain about both the underlying state of the economy and the posterior probabilities associated with these states. As such, agents adopt a robust decision rule for updating that leads them to over-weight the posterior probabilities of ?bad? states. We estimate the model using panel data on sovereign Euro-zone CDS spreads during the recent crisis, and find that it captures levels and dynamics of spreads better than traditional ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2012-04

Working Paper
Conflict of interest and certification in the U.S. IPO market

We examine the long-run performance and valuation of IPOs underwritten by relationship banks. We find that over one- to three-year horizons these IPOs do not underperform similar stocks managed by independent institutions. Moreover, our analysis suggests that relationship banks avoid potential conflicts of interest by choosing to underwrite their best clients' IPOs. Consistent with this result, we show that investors value new issues managed by relationship banks higher than similar IPOs managed by outside banks. Our findings support the certification role of relationship banks and suggest ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-07-09

Working Paper
Core and 'Crust': Consumer Prices and the Term Structure of Interest Rates

We propose a no-arbitrage model that jointly explains the dynamics of consumer prices as well as the nominal and real term structures of risk-free rates. In our framework, distinct core, food, and energy price series combine into a measure of total inflation to price nominal Treasuries. This approach captures different frequencies in inflation fluctuations: Shocks to core are more persistent and less volatile than shocks to food and, especially, energy (the 'crust'). We find that a common structure of latent factors determines and predicts the term structure of yields and inflation. The model ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2014-11

Working Paper
Stochastic volatility

Given the importance of return volatility on a number of practical financial management decisions, the efforts to provide good real- time estimates and forecasts of current and future volatility have been extensive. The main framework used in this context involves stochastic volatility models. In a broad sense, this model class includes GARCH, but we focus on a narrower set of specifications in which volatility follows its own random process, as is common in models originating within financial economics. The distinguishing feature of these specifications is that volatility, being inherently ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-09-04


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