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Author:Benzoni, Luca 

Working Paper
Why Does the Yield-Curve Slope Predict Recessions?

Why is an inverted yield-curve slope such a powerful predictor of future recessions? We show that a decomposition of the yield curve slope into its expectations and risk premia components helps disentangle the channels that connect fluctuations in Treasury rates and the future state of the economy. In particular, a change in the yield curve slope due to a monetary policy easing, measured by the current real-interest rate level and its expected path, is associated with an increase in the probability of a future recession within the next year. In contrast, a decrease in risk premia is ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2018-15

Working Paper
Explaining asset pricing puzzles associated with the 1987 market crash

The 1987 market crash was associated with a dramatic and permanent steepening of the implied volatility curve for equity index options, despite minimal changes in aggregate consumption. We explain these events within a general equilibrium framework in which expected endowment growth and economic uncertainty are subject to rare jumps. The arrival of a jump triggers the updating of agents' beliefs about the likelihood of future jumps, which produces a market crash and a permanent shift in option prices. Consumption and dividends remain smooth, and the model is consistent with salient features ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2010-10

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
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
Optimal Debt Dynamics, Issuance Costs, and Commitment

We investigate optimal capital structure and debt maturity policies in the presence of fixed issuance costs. We identify the global-optimal policy that generates the highest values of equity across all states of nature consistent with limited liability. The optimal policy without commitment provides almost as much tax benefits to debt as does the global-optimal policy and, in the limit of vanishing issuance costs, allows firms to extract 100% of EBIT. This limiting case does not converge to the equilibrium of DeMarzo and He (2019), who report no tax benefits to debt when issuance costs are ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-20

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

Working Paper
Human Capital and Long-Run Labor Income Risk

This review article examines the role of labor income risk in determining the value of a person?s human capital. We draw on the existing literature to present a model that incorporates various types of shocks to earnings. Within this framework, we highlight the implications of different assumptions about the correlation between market returns and labor income growth for the value of human capital and its riskiness. Further, the article surveys other work that applies similar ideas to assess the value and risk of pension promises. Finally, we discuss how to enrich the environment with ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2013-16

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

Newsletter
Sources of Fluctuation in Short-Term Yields and Recession Probabilities

An inverted yield curve—defined as an episode in which long-maturity Treasury yields fall below their short-maturity counterparts—is a powerful near-term predictor of recessions. While most previous studies focus on the predictive power of the spread between the long- and short-term Treasury yields, Engstrom and Sharpe (2019) have recently shown that a measure of the nominal near-term forward spread (NTFS), given by the difference between the six-quarter-ahead forward Treasury yield and the current three-month Treasury bill rate, dominates long-term spreads as a leading indicator of ...
Chicago Fed Letter

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

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