The Social Discount Rate in Developing Countries
The "social discount rate" is the interest rate used in cost-benefit analyses of infrastructure and other public projects.
Research and development, profits and firm value: a structural estimation
Is the return to private R&D as high as believed? This study identifies a flaw in the production function approach to estimating the return to R&D. I provide new estimates based on a structural estimation approach that incorporates uncertainty about the outcome from R&D. The results shed light on the rate of innovation, the impact of an innovation on profits, and the market value of the R&D stock. The parameter estimates imply a mean return to R&D of 3.7-5.5%, much lower than previous values. The analysis also demonstrates the unsuitability of using the return to R&D as a basis for policy ...
Financial market shocks during the Great Depression
This study examines the effect of shocks observed in financial markets on output and employment during the Great Depression. We present three main findings. First, an adverse financial shock leads to a decline in the manufacturing sector's output and employment that peaks about 11 months afterward. Next, this shock has a much greater impact on the durables sector than the nondurables sector. Last, continuing financial market weakness in 1933 and 1934 may have restrained the recovery from the Great Depression. The findings suggest that financial market weakness contributed to the length and ...
An efficiency perspective on the gains from mergers and asset purchases
A simple efficiency-based view states that acquisitions shift assets to more productive owners. This implies that expected returns from acquisitions increase with transaction value. We propose using the sensitivity of abnormal returns to scaled transaction value as a measure of efficiency gains. Using this method, we find that the average acquirer obtains an increase of 3% - 5% in the value of the acquired assets. However, efficiency gains vary sharply across acquirer and deal characteristics. We find statistical significance for interactions of relative value and variables known to affect ...
Capital ratios and bank lending: a matched bank approach
This paper examines the impact of bank capital ratios on bank lending by comparing differences in loan growth to differences in capital ratios at sets of banks that are matched based on geographic area as well as size and various business characteristics. We argue that such comparisons are most effective at controlling for local loan demand and other environmental factors. For comparison we also control for local factors using MSA fixed effects. We find, based on data from 2001 to 2009, that the relationship between capital ratios and bank lending is insignificant until the recent financial ...
Finance and Productivity Growth: Firm-level Evidence
Using data on a broad set of European firms, we find a strong positive relationship between the use of external financing and future productivity (TFP) growth within firms. This relationship is robust to various measures of financing and productivity, and strengthens as financing costs increase. We provide evidence against a reverse-causality explanation by showing that this relationship arises from the component of TFP that is outside the information set of the firm. These findings indicate that financial development supports productivity growth within firms, and helps explain why economic ...
Profitability and the lifecycle of firms
Using data on listed and unlisted firms in the U.K., this study documents that average profitability changes systematically with age. In their early years, firms realize substantial profitability increases, while mature firms face slow declines in profitability. A model of endogenous profitability changes arising from product development captures this pattern. Investment in product development generates profitability increases for young firms while competitive pressures from new entrants lead to profitability declines for mature firms. In addition, the model predicts that young firms realize ...
The expected real return to equity
The expected return to equity--typically measured as a historical average--is a key variable in the decision making of investors. A recent literature based on analysts forecasts and practitioner surveys finds estimates of expected returns that are sometimes much lower than historical averages. This study presents a novel method that estimates the expected return to equity using only observable data. The method builds on a present value relationship that links dividends, earnings, and investment to market values via expected returns. Given a model that captures this relationship, one can infer ...
Mapping Heat in the U.S. Financial System
We provide a framework for assessing the build-up of vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system. We collect forty-four indicators of financial and balance-sheet conditions, cutting across measures of valuation pressures, nonfinancial borrowing, and financial-sector health. We place the data in economic categories, track their evolution, and develop an algorithmic approach to monitoring vulnerabilities that can complement the more judgmental approach of most official-sector organizations. Our approach picks up rising imbalances in the U.S. financial system through the mid-2000s, presaging ...
Time-varying Volatility and the Power Law Distribution of Stock Returns
While many studies find that the tail distribution of high frequency stock returns follow a power law, there are only a few explanations for this finding. This study presents evidence that time-varying volatility can account for the power law property of high frequency stock returns. The power law coefficients obtained by estimating a conditional normal model with nonparametric volatility show a striking correspondence to the power law coefficients estimated from returns data for stocks in the Dow Jones index. A cross-sectional regression of the data coefficients on the model-implied ...