Faculty & Research

Luigi Zingales

Robert C. McCormack Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance

Phone :
1-773-702-3196
Address :
5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

Luigi Zingales’ research interests span from corporate governance to financial development, from political economy to the economic effects of culture. Currently, he has been involved in developing the best interventions to cope with the aftermath of the financial crisis. He also co-developed the Financial Trust Index, which is designed to monitor the level of trust that Americans have toward their financial system. In addition to holding his position at Chicago Booth, Zingales is currently a faculty research fellow for the National Bureau of Economic Research, a research fellow for the Center for Economic Policy Research, and a fellow of the European Governance Institute. He is also the director of the American Finance Association and an editorialist for Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian equivalent of the Financial Times. Zingales also serves on the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, which has been examining the legislative, regulatory, and legal issues affecting how public companies function.

His research has earned him the 2003 Bernácer Prize for the best young European financial economist, the 2002 Nasdaq award for best paper in capital formation, and a National Science Foundation Grant in economics. His work has been published in the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Finance and the American Economic Review.

His book, Saving Capitalism from Capitalists, coauthored with Raghuram G. Rajan, has been acclaimed as "one of the most powerful defenses of the free market ever written" by Bruce Bartlett of National Review Online. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times called it "an important book." His latest book is A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity (Basic Books; June 2012)

Born in Italy, a country with high inflation and unemployment which has inspired his professional interests as an economist, Zingales carries with him a political passion and the belief that economists should not just interpret the world, they should change it for the better. Commenting on his method of teaching on a few very important lessons rather than a myriad of details, Zingales says, "Twenty years from now they might have forgotten all the details of my course, but hopefully they will not have forgotten the way of thinking.”

Zingales received a bachelor's degree in economics summa cum laude from Università Bocconi in Italy in 1987 and a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992. He joined the Chicago Booth faculty in 1992.

In addition to teaching and researching, Zingales enjoys cooking and spending time with his children.

 

Other Interests

My kids and cooking.

 

Research Activities

Banking, strategic default, the effect of trust and culture on investments; financial decisions and individual characteristics.

With Luigi Guiso and Paola Sapienza, “Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange?,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 124, no. 3 (2009): 1095-1131.

“The Future of Securities Regulation,” Journal of Accounting Research 47, no. 2 (2009): 391-426.

With Paola Sapienza and Dario Maestripieri, "Gender differences in financial risk aversion and career choices are affected by testosterone,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106, no. 36 (2009): 15268-15273.

With Pietro Veronesi, “Paulson’s Gift,” Journal of Financial Economics 97, no. 3 (2010): 339-368.

With Alexander Dyck and Adair Morse, “Who Blows the Whistle on Corporate Fraud?," Journal of Finance 65, no. 6 (2010): 2213-2253.

For a listing of research publications please visit ’s university library listing page.

New: Banks Are Where the Liquidity Is
Date Posted: Jul  26, 2014
What is so special about banks that their demise often triggers government intervention? In this paper we show that, even ignoring interconnectedness issues, the failure of a bank causes a larger welfare loss than the failure of other institutions. The reason is that agents in need of liquidity tend to concentrate their holdings in banks. Thus, a shock to banks disproportionately affects the agents who need liquidity the most, reducing aggregate demand and the level of economic activity. The optimal fiscal response to such a shock is to help people, not banks, and the size of this response should be larger if a bank, rather than a similarly-sized nonfinancial firm, fails.

REVISION: The Value of Corporate Culture
Date Posted: Jan  24, 2014
We study which dimensions of corporate culture are related to a firm’s performance and why. We find that proclaimed values appear irrelevant. Yet, when employees perceive top managers as trustworthy and ethical, firm’s performance is stronger. We then study how different governance structures impact the ability to sustain integrity as a corporate value. We find that publicly traded firms are less able to sustain it. Traditional measures of corporate governance do not seem to have much of an impact.

New: Preventing Economists' Capture
Date Posted: Nov  15, 2013
When economists talk about regulatory capture, they do not imply that regulators are corrupt or lack integrity. In fact, if regulatory capture was just due to illegal behavior, it would be easier to fight. Regulatory capture is so pervasive precisely because it is driven by standard economic incentives, which push even the most well-intentioned regulators to cater to the interest of the regulated. These incentives are built in their positions. Regulators depend upon the regulated for much of the information they need to do their job properly. This dependency creates a need to cater to the information providers. The regulated are also the only real audience of the regulators, since taxpayers have all the incentives to remain ignorant. Hence, the regulators’ on the job performance will be naturally defined with the regulated in mind, pushing the regulators to cater to the interest of the regulated. Finally, career incentives play a big role. The regulators human capital is highly ...

REVISION: Time Varying Risk Aversion
Date Posted: Aug  05, 2013
We use a repeated survey of an Italian bank’s clients to test whether investors’ risk aversion increases following the 2008 financial crisis. We find that both a qualitative and a quantitative measure of risk aversion increases substantially after the crisis. After considering standard explanations, we investigate whether this increase might be an emotional response (fear) triggered by a scary experience. To show the plausibility of this conjecture, we conduct a lab experiment. We find that

New: How Pervasive is Corporate Fraud?
Date Posted: Feb  24, 2013
We estimate what percentage of firms engage in fraud and the economic cost of fraud. Our estimates are based on detected frauds, and frauds that we infer are started but are not caught. To identify the ‘iceberg’ of undetected fraud we take advantage of an exogenous shock to the incentives for fraud detection: Arthur Andersen’s demise, which forces companies to change auditors. By assuming that the new auditor will clean house, and examining the change in fraud detection by new auditors, w

New: Economic Experts vs. Average Americans
Date Posted: Feb  21, 2013
In 2012 the National Public Radio program Planet Money created a fake presidential platform based on the issues a small sample of economists, with different political views, agreed upon. In focus groups this platform found no support among the public at large. Is this just a feature of the particular selection made by NPR or is it a generalizable feature? If so, is this because ordinary people have not being trained in economics or because economists lack common sense or miss important political

New: Is Mistrust Self-Fulfilling?
Date Posted: Oct  31, 2011
We study experimentally the effect of expectations on whether trust is repaid. Subjects respond with untrustworthy behavior if they see that little is expected of them. This suggests that guilt aversion plays an important role in the repayment of trust.

New: Time Discounting for Primary and Monetary Rewards
Date Posted: Oct  31, 2011
This paper reports a positive and statistically significant relation between short-term discount rates elicited with a monetary and a primary reward (chocolate). This finding suggests that high short-term discount rates are related to an underling individual trait.

New: Can We Teach Emotional Intelligence
Date Posted: Aug  24, 2011
We conduct a field experiment to test whether (and how) emotional intelligence can be taught effectively in a short course. We randomly assign MBA students to an emotional intelligence course, a resiliency course, and a “placebo” course. We compare their emotional intelligences, as measured by the MSCEIT, before and after the sixteen-hour course. We find that students in the emotional intelligence course increase their MSCEIT score by 5 standard score points, students in the resiliency course by

New: Procrastination and Impatience
Date Posted: Aug  24, 2011
We use a combination of lab and field evidence to study whether preferences for immediacy and the tendency to procrastinate are connected as in O'Donoghue and Rabin (1999a). To measure immediacy, we have participants choose between smaller-sooner and larger-later rewards. Both rewards are paid by check to control for transaction costs. To measure procrastination, we record how fast participants cash their checks and complete other tasks. We find that individuals with a preference for immediacy a

New: Inefficient Provision of Liquidity
Date Posted: Aug  01, 2011
We study an economy where the lack of a simultaneous double coincidence of wants creates the need for a relatively safe asset (money). We show that, even in the absence of asymmetric information or an agency problem, the private provision of liquidity is inefficient. The reason is that liquidity affects prices and the welfare of others, and creators do not internalize this. This distortion is present even if we introduce lending and government money. To eliminate the inefficiency the government

REVISION: The Determinants of Attitudes towards Strategic Default on Mortgages
Date Posted: May  22, 2011
We use survey data to study American households’ propensity to default when the value of their mortgage exceeds the value of their house even if they can afford to pay their mortgage (strategic default). We find that 26% of the existing defaults are strategic. We also find that no household would default if the equity shortfall is less than 10% of the value of the house. Yet, 17% of households would default, even if they can afford to pay their mortgage, when the equity shortfall reaches 50% of

REVISION: Who Blows the Whistle on Corporate Fraud?
Date Posted: Apr  14, 2011
To identify the most effective mechanisms for detecting corporate fraud we study in depth all reported fraud cases in large U.S. companies between 1996 and 2004. We find that fraud detection does not rely on obvious actors (investors, SEC, and auditors), but takes a village of several non-traditional players (employees, media, and industry regulators). Having access to information or monetary rewards has a significant impact on the probability a stakeholder becomes a whistleblower. Reputational

New: Innovation and Institutional Ownership
Date Posted: Sep  02, 2010
We find that institutional ownership in publicly traded companies is associated with more innovation (measured by cite-weighted patents). To explore the mechanism through which this link arises, we build a model that nests the lazy-manager hypothesis with career-concerns, where institutional owners increase managerial incentives to innovate by reducing the career risk of risky projects. The data supports the career concerns model. First, whereas the lazy manager hypothesis predicts a substitutio

New: Civic Capital as the Missing Link
Date Posted: Mar  24, 2010
This chapter reviews the recent debate about the role of social capital in economics. We argue that all the difficulties this concept has encountered in economics are due to a vague and excessively broad definition. For this reason, we restrict social capital to the set of values and beliefs that help cooperation - which for clarity we label civic capital. We argue that this definition differentiates social capital from human capital and satisfies the properties of the standard notion of capital

New: A New Capital Requirement for Large Financial Institutions
Date Posted: Mar  17, 2010
We design a new, implementable capital requirement for large financial institutions (LFIs) that are too big to fail. Our mechanism mimics the operation of margin accounts. To ensure that LFIs do not default on either their deposits or their derivative contracts, we require that they maintain an equity cushion sufficiently great that their own credit default swap price stays below a threshold level, and a cushion of long term bonds sufficiently large that, even if the equity is wiped out, the sys

New: Can We Infer Social Preferences from the Lab? Evidence from the Trust Game
Date Posted: Jan  23, 2010
We show that a measure of reciprocity derived from the Berg et al. (1995) trust game in a laboratory setting predicts the reciprocal behavior of the same subjects in a real-world situation. By using the Crowne and Marlowe (1960) social desirability scale, we do not find any evidence that a desire to conform to social norms distorts results in the lab, yet we do find evidence that it affects results in the field.

New: A New Capital Regulation for Large Financial Institutions
Date Posted: Jan  11, 2010
We design a new, implementable capital requirement for large financial institutions (LFIs) that are too big to fail. Our mechanism mimics the operation of margin accounts. To ensure that LFIs do not default on either their deposits or their derivative contracts, we require that they maintain an equity cushion sufficiently great that their own credit default swap price stays below a threshold level, and a cushion of long term bonds sufficiently large that, even if the equity is wiped out, the sys

REVISION: Paulson's Gift
Date Posted: Dec  24, 2009
We calculate the costs and benefits of the largest ever U.S. Government intervention in the financial sector announced the 2008 Columbus-day weekend. We estimate that this intervention increased the value of banks’ financial claims by $131 billion at a taxpayers’ cost of $25 -$47 billions with a net benefit between $84bn and $107bn. By looking at the limited cross section we infer that this net benefit arises from a reduction in the probability of bankruptcy, which we estimate would destroy 22%

The Emergence of Strong Property Rights: Speculation from History
Date Posted: Oct  08, 2009
How did citizens acquire rights protecting their property from the depredations of the government? In this paper, we argue that one important factor strengthening respect for property is how it is distributed. When there is some specificity associated with property, and property is held by those who are most productive, the distribution of property becomes relatively easy to defend. By contrast, when property is owned by those who get rents simply by virtue of ownership, the distribution of prop

New: A New Capital Regulation for Large Financial Institutions
Date Posted: Oct  02, 2009
We design a new, implementable capital requirement for large financial institutions (LFIs) that are too big to fail. Our mechanism mimics the operation of margin accounts. To ensure that LFIs do not default on either their deposits or their derivative contracts, we require that they maintain an equity cushion sufficiently great that their own credit default swap price stays below a threshold level, and a cushion of long term bonds sufficiently large that, even if the equity is wiped out, the sy

New: Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages
Date Posted: Aug  26, 2009
We use survey data to study American households’ propensity to default when the value of their mortgage exceeds the value of their house even if they can afford to pay their mortgage (strategic default). We find that 26% of the existing defaults are strategic. We also find that no household would default if the equity shortfall is less than 10% of the value of the house. Yet, 17% of households would default, even if they can afford to pay their mortgage, when the equity shortfall reaches 50%

Theft and Taxes
Date Posted: Aug  13, 2009
This paper analyzes the interaction between corporate taxes and corporate governance. We show that the characteristics of a taxation system affect the extraction of private benefits by company insiders. A higher tax rate increases the amount of income insiders divert and thus worsens governance outcomes. In contrast, stronger tax enforcement reduces diversion and, in so doing, can raise the stock market value of a company in spite of the increase in the tax burden. We also show that the corporat

Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange
Date Posted: Aug  12, 2009
How much do cultural biases affect economic exchange? We try to answer this question by using the relative trust European citizens have for citizens of other countries. First, we document that this trust is affected not only by objective characteristics of the country being trusted, but also by cultural aspects such as religion, a history of conflicts, and genetic similarities. We then find that lower relative levels of trust toward citizens of a country lead to less trade with that country, les

New: Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages
Date Posted: Aug  07, 2009
We use survey data to study American households' propensity to default when the value of their mortgage exceeds the value of their house even if they can afford to pay their mortgage (strategic default). We find that 26% of the existing defaults are strategic. We also find that no household would default if the equity shortfall is less than 10% of the value of the house. Yet, 17% of households would default, even if they can afford to pay their mortgage, when the equity shortfall reaches 50% of

New: A New Capital Regulation for Large Financial Institutions
Date Posted: Jul  15, 2009
We design a new, implementable capital requirement for large financial institutions (LFIs) that are too big to fail. Our mechanism mimics the operation of margin accounts. To ensure that LFIs do not default on either their deposits or their derivative contracts, we require that they maintain a capital cushion sufficiently great that their own credit default swap price stays below a threshold level. If this level is violated the LFI regulator forces the LFI to issue equity until the CDS price mov

New: The Future of Securities Regulation
Date Posted: May  19, 2009
The U.S. system of securities law was designed more than 70 years ago to regain investors' trust after a major financial crisis. Today we face a similar problem. But while in the 1930s the prevailing perception was that investors had been defrauded by offerings of dubious quality securities, in the new millennium, investors' perception is that they have been defrauded by managers who are not accountable to anyone. For this reason, I propose a series of reforms that center around corporate govern

REVISION: The Housing Crisis and Bankruptcy Reform: The Prepackaged Chapter 13 Approach
Date Posted: Apr  15, 2009
The housing crisis threatens to destroy hundreds of billions of dollars of value by causing homeowners with negative equity to walk away from their houses. A house in foreclosure is worth 30 to 50 percent less than a house that a homeowner either retains or sells on the market, and a foreclosed house damages neighboring property values as well. We advocate a reform of Chapter 13 that would allow homeowners to strip down the value of their mortgages in a prepackaged bankruptcy. Such a plan would

New: The Housing Crisis and Bankruptcy Reform: The Prepackaged Chapter 13 Approach
Date Posted: Apr  07, 2009
The housing crisis threatens to destroy hundreds of billions of dollars of value by causing homeowners with negative equity to walk away from their houses. A house in foreclosure is worth 30 to 50 percent less than a house that a homeowner either retains or sells on the market, and a foreclosed house damages neighboring property values as well. We advocate a reform of Chapter 13 that would allow homeowners to strip down the value of their mortgages in a prepackaged bankruptcy. Such a plan would

New: The Future of Securities Regulation
Date Posted: Mar  12, 2009
The U.S. system of security law was designed more than 70 years ago to regain investors' trust after a major financial crisis. Today we face a similar problem. But while in the 1930s the prevailing perception was that investors had been defrauded by offerings of dubious quality securities, in the new millennium, investors' perception is that they have been defrauded by managers who are not accountable to anyone. For this reason, I propose a series of reforms that center around corporate governan

New: Innovation and Institutional Ownership
Date Posted: Mar  11, 2009
We find that institutional ownership in publicly traded companies is associated with more innovation (measured by cite-weighted patents). To explore the mechanism through which this link arises, we build a model that nests the lazy-manager hypothesis with career-concerns, where institutional owners increase managerial incentives to innovate by reducing the career risk of risky projects. The data supports the career concerns model. First, whereas the lazy manager hypothesis predicts a substitutio

New: Innovation and Institutional Ownership
Date Posted: Mar  05, 2009
We find that institutional ownership in publicly traded companies is associated with more innovation (measured by cite-weighted patents). To explore the mechanism through which this link arises, we build a model that nests the lazy-manager hypothesis with career-concerns, where institutional owners increase managerial incentives to innovate by reducing the career risk of risky projects. The data supports the career concerns model. First, whereas the lazy manager hypothesis predicts a substitutio

New: Media versus Special Interests
Date Posted: Mar  01, 2009
We argue that profit-maximizing media help overcome the problem of "rational ignorance" highlighted by Downs (1957) and in so doing make elected representatives more sensitive to the interests of general voters. By collecting news and combining it with entertainment, media are able to inform passive voters on politically relevant issues. To show the impact this information has on legislative outcomes, we document the effect "muckraking" magazines had on the voting patterns of U.S. representative

New: Innovation and Institutional Ownership
Date Posted: Feb  23, 2009
We find that institutional ownership in publicly traded companies is associated with more innovation (measured by cite-weighted patents). To explore the mechanism through which this link arises, we build a model that nests the lazy-manager hypothesis with career-concerns, where institutional owners increase managerial incentives to innovate by reducing the career risk of risky projects. The data supports the career concerns model. First, whereas the lazy manager hypothesis predicts a substitutio

REVISION: The Future of Securities Regulation
Date Posted: Feb  12, 2009
The U.S. system of security law was designed more than 70 years ago to regain investors' trust after a major financial crisis. Today we face a similar problem. But while in the 1930s the prevailing perception was that investors had been defrauded by offerings of dubious quality securities, in the new millennium, investors' perception is that they have been defrauded by managers who are not accountable to anyone. For this reason, I propose a series of reforms that center around corporate governan

New: Long Term Persistence
Date Posted: Dec  02, 2008
Is social capital long lasting? Does it affect long term economic performance? To answer these questions we test Putnam's conjecture that today marked differences in social capital between the North and South of Italy were due to the culture of independence fostered by the free city-states experience in the North of Italy at the turn of the first millennium. We show that the medieval experience of independence has an impact on social capital within the North, even when we instrument for the prob

REVISION: Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange?
Date Posted: Nov  23, 2008
How much do cultural biases affect economic exchange? We try to answer this question by using the relative trust European citizens have for citizens of other countries. First, we document that this trust is affected not only by objective characteristics of the country being trusted, but also by cultural aspects such as religion, a history of conflicts, and genetic similarities. We then find that lower relative levels of trust toward citizens of a country lead to less trade with that country, les

New: Media Versus Special Interests
Date Posted: Nov  21, 2008
We argue that profit-maximizing media help overcome the problem of "rational ignorance" highlighted by Downs (1957) and in so doing make elected representatives more sensitive to the interests of general voters. By collecting news and combining it with entertainment, media are able to inform passive voters on politically relevant issues. To show the impact this information has on legislative outcomes, we document the effect "muckraking" magazines had on the voting patterns of U.S. representative

Corporate Ownership Structures: Private Versus Social Optimality
Date Posted: Nov  10, 2008
This paper analyzes the inefficiencies that might arise in the ownership structure chosen at the initial public offering stage. We show that, contrary to what is commonly believed, the desire of initial owners to maximize their proceeds leads them to choices that, although privately optimal, may be socially inefficient. This distortion tends to be in the direction of excessive incidence of controlling shareholder structures and excessive divestment of cash flow rights. Our analysis has far-reach

New: Media versus Special Interests
Date Posted: Oct  07, 2008
We argue that profit-maximizing media help overcome the problem of rational ignorance highlighted by Downs (1957) and in so doing make elected representatives more sensitive to the interests of general voters. By collecting news and combining it with entertainment, media are able to inform passive voters on politically relevant issues. To show the impact this information has on legislative outcomes, we document the effect muckraking magazines had on the voting patterns of U.S. representatives an

Banks and Markets: The Changing Character of European Finance
Date Posted: Sep  18, 2008
In the last two decades the European financial markets have become more market oriented. We analyze the economic and political forces that have triggered these changes as well as their likely welfare implications. We also try to assess whether this trend will continue. Based on our analysis, we conjecture that even if Europe might benefit from a continuation of the trend, in the near future political support for it is likely to become much weaker. Furthermore, without serious reforms the tre

New: Long Term Persistence
Date Posted: Sep  15, 2008
Is social capital long lasting? Does it affect long term economic performance? To answer these questions we test Putnam's conjecture that today marked differences in social capital between the North and South of Italy were due to the culture of independence fostered by the free city-states experience in the North of Italy at the turn of the first millennium. We show that the medieval experience of independence has an impact on social capital within the North, even when we instrument for the prob

New: Long Term Persistence
Date Posted: Aug  28, 2008
Is social capital long lasting? Does it affect long term economic performance? To answer these questions we test Putnam's conjecture that today marked differences in social capital between the North and South of Italy were due to the culture of independence fostered by the free city-states experience in the North of Italy at the turn of the first millennium. We show that the medieval experience of independence has an impact on social capital within the North, even when we instrument for the prob

New: Procrastination and Impatience
Date Posted: Jun  09, 2008
There is a large body of literature documenting both a preference for immediacy and a tendency to procrastinate. O'Donoghue and Rabin (1999a,b, 2001) and Choi et al. (2005) model these behaviours as two faces of the same phenomenon. In this paper, we use a combination of lab, field, and survey evidence to study whether these two types of behaviour are indeed linked. To measure immediacy we had subjects choose between a series of smaller-sooner and larger-later rewards. Both rewards were paid wit

New: Social Capital as Good Culture
Date Posted: Jun  05, 2008
To explain the extremely long-term persistence (more than 500 years) of positive historical experiences of cooperation (Putnam 1993), we model the intergenerational transmission of priors about the trustworthiness of others. We show that this transmission tends to be biased toward excessively conservative priors. As a result, societies can be trapped in a low-trust equilibrium. In this context, a temporary shock to the return to trusting can have a permanent effect on the level of trust. We vali

New: Understanding Trust
Date Posted: Jun  05, 2008
Several papers study the effect of trust by using the answer to the World Values Survey (WVS) question "Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people?" to measure the level of trust. Glaeser et al. (2000) question the validity of this measure by showing that it is not correlated with senders' behaviour in the standard trust game, but only with his trustworthiness. By using a large sample of German households, Fehr et al.

New: Who Blows the Whistle on Corporate Fraud?
Date Posted: May  19, 2008
What external control mechanisms are most effective in detecting corporate fraud? To address this question we study in depth all reported cases of corporate fraud in companies with more than 750 million dollars in assets between 1996 and 2004. We find that fraud detection does not rely on one single mechanism, but on a wide range of, often improbable, actors. Only 6% of the frauds are revealed by the SEC and 14% by the auditors. More important monitors are media (14%), industry regulators (16%),

Power in a Theory of the Firm
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
What determines the boundaries of a firm? Is a firm defined solely by the ownership of physical assets as suggested by the property rights theory? This paper presents a theory of the firm based on the well-known idea that the firm improves over the market because it uses ex ante mechanisms to enhance specific investments. Maintaining the contractability assumptions of the property rights view, however, we identify not one but two such mechanisms. One is, of course, the ownership of property

Corporate Governance
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
This essay summarizes my own personal view of what corporate governance is about. I argue that it makes sense to discuss corporate governance only in an incomplete contract world. In this world, the notion of corporate governance is intrinsically related to the definition of the firm. In this respect, I review the shortcomings of the existing definitions of the firm and the possible applications of the idea that the firm is a "nexus of specific investments" introduced by Rajan and Zingales (1997

What Do We Know about Capital Structure? Some Evidence From International Data
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
We investigate the determinants of capital structure choice by analyzing the financing decisions of public firms in the major industrialized countries. At an aggregate level, firm leverage is fairly similar across the G-7 countries. We find that the factors identified by previous studies as important in determining the cross-section of capital structure in the US, affect firm leverage in other countries as well. However, a deeper examination of the US and foreign evidence suggests that the theor

Financial Distress as a Collapse of Incentives
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
This paper explains why companies close to bankruptcy tend to lose their best workers and why the employees who remain lack proper motivation. This collapse of incentives within an organization arises because of a negative interaction between the system of incentives and the capital structure chosen by top management to avoid disciplinary takeovers. Furthermore, the same devices management creates ex ante to entrench itself also make it extremely difficult to renegotiate away the inefficiency ex

The Cost of Diversity: The Diversification Discount and Inefficient Investment
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
In a simple model of capital budgeting in a diversified firm where headquarters has limited power, we show that funds are allocated towards the most inefficient divisions The distortion is greater the more diverse are the investment opportunities of the firm's divisions. We test these implications on a panel of diversified firms in the U.S. during the period 1979-1993. We find that i) diversified firms mis-allocate investment funds; ii) the extent of mis-allocation is positively related to the d

Survival of the Fittest or the Fattest? Exit and Financing in the Trucking Industry
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
This paper studies the impact that capital market imperfections have on the natural selection of the most efficient firms by estimating the effect of the pre- deregulation level of leverage on the survival of trucking firms after the Carter deregulation. Highly leveraged carriers are less likely to survive the deregulation shock, even after controlling for various measures of efficiency. This effect is stronger in the imperfectly competitive segment of the motor carrier industry. High debt seems

Survival of the Fittest or the Fattest? Exit and Financing in the Trucking Industry
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
This paper studies the impact that capital market imperfections have on the natural selection of the most efficient firms by estimating the effect of the pre-deregulation level of leverage on the survival of trucking firms after the Carter deregulation. Highly leveraged carriers are less likely to survive the deregulation shock, even after controlling for various measures of efficiency. This effect is stronger in the imperfectly competitive segment of the motor carrier industry. High debt seems

Bureaucracy as a Mechanism to Generate Information
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
Firms that maintain no formal record of actions and events would hardly be considered well managed. Yet, organizations that require the recording of actions and the filing of reports are often labelled "bureaucratic" and inefficient. This paper argues that the thin line between efficient management practices and inefficient bureaucracy is crossed to curb managerial agency costs in a multi-layer hierarchy. The model predicts that bureaucracy increases with the frequency of managerial turnover, an

The Firm as a Dedicated Hierarchy: A Theory of the Origin and Growth of Firms
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
In the formative stages of their businesses, entrepreneurs have to provide incentives for employees to protect, rather than steal, the source of organizational rents. We study how the entrepreneur's response to this problem determines the organization'sinternal structure, growth,anditseventualsize. Large, steep hierarchies will predominate in physical-capital in-tensive industries, and will have seniority-based promotion policies. By contrast, at hierarchies will prevail in human-capital intensi

What Determines Firm Size?
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
In this paper we examine data on firm size from Europe to shed light on factors correlated with firm size. In addition to studying broad patterns, we use the data to ask whether it is sufficient to think of the firm as a black box as some theories of the firm that we label "technological" do, or whether we need to be concerned with features such as asset specificity and the process of control that are the focus of "organizational" theories. At the industry level, we find capital-intensive indust

The Tyranny of Inequality
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
This paper focuses on the externality that a contractual transfer of fungible resources can have on future interactions. The very fungibility of the resource transferred make it hard to restrict its use, changing the amount the parties involved spend in trying to grab future rents. This spill-over effect can inhibit otherwise valuable transactions, as well as enable otherwise ineffcient transactions. Agreement typically breaks down when the required transfer is large and the proposed recipient o

The Role Of Social Capital In Financial Development
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
To identify the effect of social capital on financial development, we exploit the well-known differences in social capital (Banfield (1958), Putnam (1993)) across different parts of Italy. In areas of the country with high levels of social capital, households invest less in cash and more in stock, are more likely to use checks, have higher access to institutional credit, and make less use of informal credit. The effect of social capital is stronger where legal enforcement is weaker and among l

The Tyranny of Inequality
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
When parties are very unequally endowed, agreement may be very difficult to reach, even if the specific transaction is easy to contract on, and fungible resources can be transferred to compensate the losing party. The very fungibility of the transferred resource makes it hard to restrict its use, and changes the amount the parties involved spend in trying to grab future rents. This spill-over effect can inhibit otherwise valuable transactions, as well as enable otherwise inefficient transactions

The Cost of Diversity: The Diversification Discount and Inefficient Investment
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
In a simple model of capital budgeting in a diversified firm where headquarters has limited power, we show that funds are allocated towards the most inefficient divisions The distortion is greater the more diverse are the investment opportunities of the firm's divisions. We test these implications on a panel of diversified firms in the U.S. during the period 1979-1993. We find that i) diversified firms mis-allocate investment funds; ii) the extent of mis-allocation is positively related to the d

Efficiency and Distribution in Financial Restructuring: The Case of the Ferruzzi Group
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
This paper analyzes the efficiency and distributional consequences of the largest out- of-court restructuring ever ($20 billion of debt). The restructuring was engineered by a five-bank committee composed of the largest creditors, which took effective control of the company at the onset of financial distress. We compare the payoffs obtained by creditors under the restructuring plan with those they would have obtained in the absence of it. We show that the plan implied a large redistribution amon

In Search Of New Foundations
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
In this paper I argue that corporate finance theory, empirical research, practical applications, and policy recommendations are deeply rooted in an underlying theory of the firm. I also argue that while the existing theories have delivered very important and useful insights, they seem to be quite ineffective in helping us cope with the new type of firms that are emerging. I outline the characteristics that a new theory of the firm should satisfy and how such a theory could change the way we do c

The Great Reversals: The Politics of Financial Development in the 20th Century
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
Indicators of the development of the financial sector do not improve monotonically over time. In particular, we find that by most measures, countries were more financially developed in 1913 than in 1980 and only recently have they surpassed their 1913 levels. This pattern cannot be explained by structural theories that attribute cross-country differences in financial development to time-invariant factors, such as a country's legal origin or culture. We propose an "interest group" theory of finan

The Influence of the Financial Revolution on the Nature of Firms
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
Major technological, regulatory, and institutional changes have made finance more widely available in recent years. The ability of financial institutions to price a variety of exotic instruments, and to assess and spread risks, has increased. More data on potential borrowers is now available, and it is also more timely. Improvements in accounting disclosure have resulted in greater borrower transparency. Deregulation has resulted in greater competition and better prices in financial markets. Fin

Private Benefits of Control: An International Comparison
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
We construct a measure of the private benefits of control in 39 countries based on 412 control transactions between 1990 and 2000. We find that the value of control ranges between -4% and +65%, with an average of 14 percent. As predicted by theory, in countries where private benefits of control are larger capital markets are less developed, ownership is more concentrated, and privatizations are less likely to take place as public offerings. We also analyze what institutions are most important

Does Local Financial Development Matter?
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
We study the effects of differences in local financial development within an integrated financial market. We construct a new indicator of financial development by estimating a regional effect on the probability that, ceteris paribus, a household is shut off from the credit market. By using this indicator we find that financial development enhances the probability an individual starts his own business, favors entry, increases competition, and promotes growth of firms. As predicted by theory, thes

People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
Since Max Weber, there has been an active debate on the impact of religion on people's economic attitudes. Much of the existing evidence, however, is based on cross-country studies in which this impact is confounded by differences in other institutional factors. We use the World Values Surveys to identify the relationship between intensity of religious beliefs and economic attitudes, controlling for country fixed effects. We study several economic attitudes toward cooperation, the government, w

The Corporate Governance Role of the Media
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
In this paper we discuss the role of the media in pressuring corporate managers and directors to behave in ways that are "socially acceptable". Sometimes this coincides with shareholders' value maximization, others not. We provide both anecdotal and systematic evidence that media affect companies' policy toward the environment and the amount of corporate resources that are diverted to the sole advantage of controlling shareholders. Our results have important consequences for the focus of the cor

Why Do Companies Go Public? An Empirical Analysis
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
Using a large database of private firms in Italy, we analyze the determinants of initial public offerings (IPOs) by comparing the ex ante and ex post characteristics of IPOs with those of private firms. The likelihood of an IPO is increasing in the company's size and the industry's market-to-book ratio. Companies appear to go public not to finance future investments and growth, but to rebalance their accounts after high investment and growth. IPOs are also followed by lower cost of credit and in

The Stock Market as a Source of Capital: Some Lessons from Initial Public Offerings in Italy
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
This paper complements the analysis of the decision to go public contained in Pagano et al. (1995). We compare a larger set of Italian initial public offerings, including holding companies, with size-matched private companies. Even in this larger sample we find evidence that: (i) the new equity capital raised upon listing is not used to finance subsequent investment and growth; (ii) going public reduces the cost of credit; (iii) it is often associated with equity sales by controlling shareholder

Financial Systems, Industrial Structure, and Growth
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
How does the development of the financial sector affect industrial growth? What effect does it have on the composition of industry, and the size distribution of firms? What is the relative importance of financial institutions and financial markets, and does it depend on the stage of economic growth? How do financial systems differ in their vulnerability to crisis? This paper attempts to provide an answer to these questions based on the current state of empirical research.

The Costs and Benefits of Financial Market Regulation
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
This paper revisits the controversy on regulation and applies its insights to the debate on corporate governance and mutual funds. The general result of this exercise is that a strong case can be made in favor of more mandatory disclosure. While theoretically there is scope also for other mandatory regulation, it is unclear whether its benefits exceed its costs. Furthermore, it is difficult to see how this ideal regulation could emerge from the political process, which tends to be dominated by i

The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
To identify the effect of social capital on financial development, we exploit social capital differences within Italy. In high-social-capital areas, households are more likely to use checks, invest less in cash and more in stock, have higher access to institutional credit, and make less use of informal credit. The effect of social capital is stronger where legal enforcement is weaker and among less educated people. These results are not driven by omitted environmental variables, since we show th

Theft and Taxes
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
This paper analyzes the interaction between corporate taxes and corporate governance. We show that the design of the corporate tax system affects the amount of private benefits extracted by company insiders. A higher tax rate increases the amount of income insiders divert and thus worsens governance outcomes. In contrast, stronger tax enforcement reduces diversion and, in so doing, can raise the stock market value of a company, in spite of the increase in the tax burden. We also show that the

Do Investment Cash-Flow Sensitivities Provide Useful Measures of Financing Constraints?
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2008
This paper investigates the relationship between financing constraints and investment-cash flow sensitivities by analyzing the firms identified by Fazzari, Hubbard, and Petersen as having unusually high investment-cash flow sensitivities. We find that firms that appear less financially constrained exhibit significantly greater sensitivities than firms that appear more financially constrained. We find this pattern for the entire sample period, subperiods, and individual years. These results (and

What Do We Know About Capital Structure? Some Evidence from International Data
Date Posted: Apr  21, 2008
We investigate the determinants of capital structure choice by analyzing the financing decisions of public firms in the major industrialized countries. At an aggregate level, firm leverage is fairly similar across the G-7 countries. We find that factors identified by previous studies as important in determining the cross- section of capital structure in the U.S. affect firm leverage in other countries as well. However, a deeper examination of the U.S. and foreign evidence suggests that the th

Corporate Governance
Date Posted: Apr  03, 2008
This essay summarizes my own personal view of what corporate governance is about. I" argue that it makes sense to discuss corporate governance only in an incomplete contract world. " In this world, the notion of corporate governance is intrinsically related to the definition of the" firm. In this respect, I review the shortcomings of the existing definitions of the firm and the" possible applications of the idea that the firm is a specific investments" introduced by" Rajan and Zingales (1997a a

Do Financing Constraints Explain Why Investment is Correlated with Cash Flow?
Date Posted: Mar  19, 2008
This paper investigates the sources of the correlation between corporate cash flow and investment by undertaking an in-depth analysis of the 49 low-dividend firms identified by Fazzari, Hubbard, and Petersen (1988) as having an unusually high investment-cash flow sensitivity. We find that in only 15% of firm-years is there some question as to a firm's ability to access internal or external funds to increase investment. Strikingly, those firms that appear less financially constrained exhibit a

New: Procrastination and Impatience
Date Posted: Feb  21, 2008
There is a large body of literature documenting both a preference for immediacy and a tendency to procrastinate. O'Donoghue and Rabin (1999a,b, 2001) and Choi et al. (2005) model these behaviors as the two faces of the same phenomenon. In this paper, we use a combination of lab, field, and survey evidence to study whether these two types of behavior are indeed linked. To measure immediacy we had subjects choose between a series of smaller-sooner and larger-later rewards. Both rewards were paid w

New: Social Capital as Good Culture
Date Posted: Feb  21, 2008
To explain the extremely long-term persistence (more than 500 years) of positive historical experiences of cooperation (Putnam 1993), we model the intergenerational transmission of priors about the trustworthiness of others. We show that this transmission tends to be biased toward excessively conservative priors. As a result, societies can be trapped in a low-trust equilibrium. In this context, a temporary shock to the return to trusting can have a permanent effect on the level of trust. We vali

REVISION: Social Capital as Good Culture
Date Posted: Jan  17, 2008
To explain the extremely long-term persistence (more than 500 years) of positive historical experiences of cooperation (Putnam 1993), we model the intergenerational transmission of priors about the trustworthiness of others. We show that this transmission tends to be biased toward excessively conservative priors. As a result, societies can be trapped in a low-trust equilibrium. In this context, a temporary shock to the return to trusting can have a permanent effect on the level of trust. We vali

REVISION: Procrastination and Impatience
Date Posted: Jan  17, 2008
There is a large body of literature documenting both a preference for immediacy and a tendency to procrastinate. O'Donoghue and Rabin (1999a,b, 2001) and Choi et al. (2005)model these behaviors as two faces of the same phenomenon. In this paper, we use a combination of lab, field, and survey evidence to study whether these two types of behavior are indeed linked. To measure immediacy we had subjects choose between a series of smaller-sooner and larger-later rewards. Both rewards were paid with a

New: Is the U.S. Capital Market Losing its Competitive Edge?
Date Posted: Nov  12, 2007
In this paper I analyze the competitiveness of the U.S. equity markets by studying the recent trend in the share of global IPOs they are able to attract. I find that the U.S. equity market share has dropped dramatically from 2000 to 2005. This drop cannot be explained by changes in the geographical or the sectoral composition of IPOs. The most likely cause is a combination of an improvement in the competitors (mostly European equity markets) and an increase in the compliance costs for publicly t

New: Understanding Trust
Date Posted: Nov  05, 2007
Several papers study the effect of trust by using the answer to the World Values Survey (WVS) question Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people? to measure the level of trust. Glaeser et al. (2000) question the validity of this measure by showing that it is not correlated with senders' behavior in the standard trust game, but only with his trustworthiness. By using a large sample of German households, Fehr et al. (2

New: Understanding Trust
Date Posted: Sep  04, 2007
Several papers study the effect of trust by using the answer to the World Values Survey (WVS) question "Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people?" to measure the level of trust. Glaeser et al. (2000) question the validity of this measure by showing that it is not correlated with senders' behavior in the standard trust game, but only with his trustworthiness. By using a large sample of German households, Fehr et al.

New: Understanding Trust
Date Posted: Aug  29, 2007
Several papers study the effect of trust by using the answer to the World Values Survey (WVS) question "Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can't be too careful in dealing with people?" to measure the level of trust. Glaeser et al. (2000) question the validity of this measure by showing that it is not correlated with senders' behavior in the standard trust game, but only with his trustworthiness. By using a large sample of German households, Fehr et al.

REVISION: Trusting the Stock Market
Date Posted: May  31, 2007
We provide a new explanation to the limited stock market participation puzzle. In deciding whether to buy stocks, investors factor in the risk of being cheated. The perception of this risk is a function not only of the objective characteristics of the stock, but also of the subjective characteristics of the investor. Less trusting individuals are less likely to buy stock and, conditional on buying stock, they will buy less. The calibration of the model shows that this problem is sufficiently sev

New: Trusting the Stock Market
Date Posted: Mar  23, 2007
We study the effect that a general lack of trust can have on stock market participation. In deciding whether to buy stocks, investors factor in the risk of being cheated. The perception of this risk is a function not only of the objective characteristics of the stocks, but also of the subjective characteristics of the investor. Less trusting individuals are less likely to buy stock and, conditional on buying stock, they will buy less. We find evidence consistent with these propositions in Dutch

New: Who Blows the Whistle on Corporate Fraud?
Date Posted: Feb  07, 2007
What external control mechanisms are most effective in detecting corporate fraud? To address this question we study in depth all reported cases of corporate fraud in companies with more than 750 million dollars in assets between 1996 and 2004. We find that fraud detection does not rely on one single mechanism, but on a wide range of, often improbable, actors. Only 6% of the frauds are revealed by the SEC and 14% by the auditors. More important monitors are media (14%), industry regulators (16%)

New: What Has Mattered to Economics Since 1970
Date Posted: Dec  30, 2006
We compile the list of articles published in major refereed economics journals during the last 35 years that have received more than 500 citations. We document major shifts in the mode of contribution and in the importance of different sub-fields: Theory loses out to empirical work, and micro and macro give way to growth and development in the 1990s. While we do not witness any decline in the primacy of production in the United States over the period, the concentration of institutions within the

New: The Corporate Governance Role of the Media: Evidence from Russia
Date Posted: Dec  30, 2006
We study the effect of media coverage on corporate governance by focusing on Russia in the period 1999-2002. This setting offers us three ideal conditions for such a study: plenty of corporate governance violations, no alternative mechanisms to address them, and the presence of an investment fund (the Hermitage) that actively lobbies the international press to shame companies perpetrating those violations. We find that Hermitage's lobbying is effective in increasing the coverage of corporate gov

New: What Has Mattered to Economics Since 1970
Date Posted: Dec  27, 2006
We compile the list of articles published in major refereed economics journals during the last 35 years that have received more than 500 citations. We document major shifts in the mode of contribution and in the importance of different sub-fields: Theory loses out to empirical work, and micro and macro give way to growth and development in the 1990s. While we do not witness any decline in the primacy of production in the United States over the period, the concentration of institutions within the

New: The Persistence of Underdevelopment: Institutions, Human Capital or Constituencies
Date Posted: Dec  20, 2006
Why is underdevelopment so persistent? One explanation is that poor countries do not have institutions that can support growth. Because institutions (both good and bad) are persistent, underdevelopment is persistent. An alternative view is that underdevelopment comes from poor education. Neither explanation is fully satisfactory, the first because it does not explain why poor economic institutions persist even in fairly democratic but poor societies, and the second because it does not explain wh

New: The Cost of Banking Regulation
Date Posted: Dec  20, 2006
We use exogenous variation in the degree of restrictions to bank competition across Italian provinces to study both the effects of bank regulation and the impact of deregulation. We find that where entry was more restricted the cost of credit was higher and - contrary to expectations - access to credit lower. The only benefit of these restrictions was a lower proportion of bad loans. Liberalization brings a reduction in rates spreads and an increased access to credit at a cost of an increase in

New: The Cost of Banking Regulation
Date Posted: Dec  02, 2006
We use exogenous variation in the degree of restrictions to bank competition across Italian provinces to study both the effects of bank regulation and the impact of deregulation. We find that where entry was more restricted the cost of credit was higher and - contrary to expectations - access to credit lower. The only benefit of these restrictions was a lower proportion of bad loans. Liberalization brings a reduction in rates spreads and an increased access to credit at a cost of an increase in

The Great Reversals: The Politics of Financial Development in the 20th Century
Date Posted: Sep  29, 2006
We show that the development of the financial sector does not change monotonically over time. In particular, we find that by most measures, countries were more financially developed in 1913 than in 1980 and only recently have they surpassed their 1913 levels. This pattern is inconsistent with most recent theories of why cross-country differences in financial development do not track differences in economic development, since these theories are based upon time-invariant factors, such as a country

REVISION: What Has Mattered to Economics Since 1970
Date Posted: Sep  22, 2006
We compile the list of articles published in major refereed economics journals during the last 35 years that have received more than 500 citations. We document major shifts in the mode of contribution and in the importance of different sub-fields: Theory loses out to empirical work, and micro and macro give way to growth and development in the 1990s. While we do not witness any decline in the primacy of production in the United States over the period, the concentration of institutions within the

New: The Persistence of Underdevelopment: Institutions, Human Capital, or Constituencies?
Date Posted: Sep  04, 2006
Why is underdevelopment so persistent? One explanation is that poor countries do not have institutions that can support growth. Because institutions (both good and bad) are persistent, underdevelopment is persistent. An alternative view is that underdevelopment comes from poor education. Neither explanation is fully satisfactory, the first because it does not explain why poor economic institutions persist even in fairly democratic but poor societies, and the second because it does not explain wh

New: What has Mattered to Economics Since 1970
Date Posted: Sep  04, 2006
We compile the list of articles published in major refereed economics journals during the last 35 years that have received more than 500 citations. We document major shifts in the mode of contribution and in the importance of different sub-fields: Theory loses out to empirical work, and micro and macro give way to growth and development in the 1990s. While we do not witness any decline in the primacy of production in the United States over the period, the concentration of institutions within the

New: The Cost of Banking Regulation
Date Posted: Aug  18, 2006
We use exogenous variation in the degree of restrictions to bank competition across Italian provinces to study both the effects of bank regulation and the impact of deregulation. We find that where entry was more restricted the cost of credit was higher and - contrary to expectations - access to credit lower. The only benefit of these restrictions was a lower proportion of bad loans. Liberalization brings a reduction in rates spreads and an increased access to credit at a cost of an increase in

New: Are Elite Universities Losing their Competitive Edge?
Date Posted: Aug  07, 2006
We study the location-specific component in research productivity of economics and finance faculty who have ever been affiliated with the top 25 universities in the last three decades. We find that there was a positive effect of being affiliated with an elite university in the 1970s; this effect weakened in the 1980s and disappeared in the 1990s. We decompose this university fixed effect and find that its decline is due to the reduced importance of physical access to productive research colleagu

New: Are Elite Universities Losing Their Competitive Edge?
Date Posted: Jul  30, 2006
We study the location-specific component in research productivity of economics and finance faculty who have ever been affiliated with the top 25 universities in the last three decades. We find that there was a positive effect of being affiliated with an elite university in the 1970s; this effect weakened in the 1980s and disappeared in the 1990s. We decompose this university fixed effect and find that its decline is due to the reduced importance of physical access to productive research colleagu

New: Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?
Date Posted: May  30, 2006
Economists have been reluctant to rely on culture as a possible determinant of economic phenomena. The notion of culture is so broad and the channels through which it can enter the economic discourse so vague that it is difficult to design testable hypotheses. In this paper we show this does need to be the case. We introduce a narrower definition of culture that allows for a simple methodology to develop and test cultural-based explanations. We also present several applications of this methodolo

The Cost of Diversity: The Diversification Discount and Inefficient Investment
Date Posted: May  25, 2006
In a simple model of capital budgeting in a diversified firm where headquarters has limited power, we show that funds are allocated towards the most inefficient divisions. The distortion is greater the more diverse are the investment opportunities of the firm`s divisions. We test these implications on a panel of diversified firms in the U.S. during the period 1979-1993. We find that i) diversified firms mis-allocate investment funds; ii) the extent of mis-allocation is positively related to th

New: The Persistence of Underdevelopment: Institutions, Human Capital, or Constituencies?
Date Posted: May  14, 2006
Why is underdevelopment so persistent? One explanation is that poor countries do not have institutions that can support growth. Because institutions (both good and bad) are persistent, underdevelopment is persistent. An alternative view is that underdevelopment comes from poor education. Neither explanation is fully satisfactory, the first because it does not explain why poor economic institutions persist even in fairly democratic but poor societies, and the second because it does not explain wh

New: Are Elite Universities Losing Their Competitive Edge?
Date Posted: May  10, 2006
We study the location-specific component in research productivity of economics and finance faculty who have ever been affiliated with the top 25 universities in the last three decades. We find that there was a positive effect of being affiliated with an elite university in the 1970s; this effect weakened in the 1980s and disappeared in the 1990s. We decompose this university fixed effect and find that its decline is due to the reduced importance of physical access to productive research colleag

New: Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?
Date Posted: Apr  22, 2006
Economists have been reluctant to rely on culture as a possible determinant of economic phenomena. The notion of culture is so broad and the channels through which it can enter the economic discourse so vague that it is difficult to design testable hypotheses. In this paper we show this does need to be the case. We introduce a narrower definition of culture that allows for a simple methodology to develop and test cultural-based explanations. We also present several applications of this methodolo

Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?
Date Posted: Jan  24, 2006
Economists have been reluctant to rely on culture as a possible determinant of economic phenomena. The notion of culture is so broad and the channels through which it can enter the economic discourse so vague that it is difficult to design testable hypotheses. In this paper we show this does need to be the case. We introduce a narrower definition of culture that allows for a simple methodology to develop and test cultural-based explanations. We also present several applications of this methodolo

Trusting the Stock Market
Date Posted: Dec  29, 2005
We provide a new explanation to the limited stock market participation puzzle. In deciding whether to buy stocks, investors factor in the risk of being cheated. The perception of this risk is a function not only of the objective characteristics of the stock, but also of the subjective characteristics of the investor. Less trusting individuals are less likely to buy stock and, conditional on buying stock, they will buy less. The calibration of the model shows that this problem is sufficiently sev

Trusting the Stock Market
Date Posted: Dec  29, 2005
We provide a new explanation to the limited stock market participation puzzle. In deciding whether to buy stocks, investors factor in the risk of being cheated. The perception of this risk is a function not only of the objective characteristics of the stock, but also of the subjective characteristics of the investor. Less trusting individuals are less likely to buy stock and, conditional on buying stock, they will buy less. The calibration of the model shows that this problem is sufficiently sev

Cultural Biases in Economic Exchange
Date Posted: Apr  26, 2005
How much do cultural biases affect economic exchange? We try to answer this question by using the relative trust European citizens have for citizens of other countries. First, we document that this trust is affected not only by objective characteristics of the country being trusted, but also by cultural aspects such as religion, a history of conflicts, and genetic similarities. We then find that lower relative levels of trust toward citizens of a country lead to less trade with that country, les

Theft and Taxes
Date Posted: Apr  08, 2005
This Paper analyzes the interaction between corporate taxes and corporate governance. We show that the characteristics of a taxation system affect the extraction of private benefits by company insiders. A higher tax rate increases the amount of income insiders divert and thus worsens governance outcomes. In contrast, stronger tax enforcement reduces diversion and, in so doing, can raise the stock market value of a company in spite of the increase in the tax burden. We also show that the corporat

The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development
Date Posted: Nov  04, 2004
To identify the effect of social capital on financial development, we exploit the well-known differences in social capital and trust (Banfield (1958), Putnam (1993)) across different parts of Italy, using microeconomic data on households and firms. In areas of the country with high levels of social trust, households invest less in cash and more in stock, use more checks, have higher access to institutional credit, and make less use of informal credit. In these areas, firms also have more access

Which Capitalism? Lessons from the East Asian Crisis
Date Posted: Dec  18, 2003
As a result of the Asian crisis, relationship-based systems are now under attack for being inefficient and corrupt. Yet, till recently, they were proposed as an alternative form of capitalism to the arm's length Anglo-Saxon system. What went wrong? This paper suggests that relationship-based systems work well when contracts are poorly enforced and capital scarce. Power relationships substitute for contracts, and can achieve better outcomes than a primitive contractual system. But a relationship-

Bureaucracy as a Mechanism to Generate Information
Date Posted: Aug  13, 2003
Firms that maintain no formal record of actions and events would hardly be considered well managed. Yet, organizations that require the recording of actions and the filing of reports are often labeled 'bureaucratic' and inefficient. This Paper argues that the thin line between efficient management practices and inefficient bureaucracy is crossed to curb managerial agency costs in a multi-layer hierarchy. The model predicts that bureaucracy increases with the frequency of managerial turnover, and

Bureaucracy as a Mechanism to Generate Information
Date Posted: Aug  12, 2003
Firms that maintain no formal record of actions and events would hardly be considered well managed. Yet, organizations that require the recording of actions and the filing of reports are often labeled 'bureaucratic' and inefficient. This paper argues that the thin line between efficient management practices and inefficient bureaucracy is crossed to curb managerial agency costs in a multi-layer hierarchy. The model predicts that bureaucracy increases with the frequency of managerial turnover, and

Banks and Markets: The Changing Character of European Finance
Date Posted: Jun  24, 2003
In the last two decades the European financial markets have become more market-oriented. We analyse the economic and political forces that have triggered these changes as well as their likely welfare implications. We also try to assess whether this trend will continue. Based on our analysis, we conjecture that even if Europe might benefit from a continuation of the trend, in the near future political support for it is likely to become much weaker. Furthermore, without serious reforms, the trend

Banks and Markets: The Changing Character of European Finance
Date Posted: Jun  24, 2003
In the last two decades the European financial markets have become more market oriented. We analyze the economic and political forces that have triggered these changes as well as their likely welfare implications. We also try to assess whether this trend will continue. Based on our analysis, we conjecture that even if Europe might benefit from a continuation of the trend, in the near future political support for it is likely to become much weaker. Furthermore, without serious reforms, the trend

People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes
Date Posted: Jan  14, 2003
Since Max Weber, there has been an active debate on the impact of religion on people's economic attitudes. Much of the existing evidence, however, is based on cross-country studies in which this impact is confounded by differences in other institutional factors. We use the World Values Surveys to identify the relationship between intensity of religious beliefs and economic attitudes, controlling for country fixed effects. We study several economic attitudes toward cooperation, the government, wo

People's Opium? Religion and Economic Attitudes
Date Posted: Nov  19, 2002
Since Max Weber, there has been an active debate on the impact of religion on people's economic attitudes. Much of the existing evidence, however, is based on cross-country studies in which this impact is confounded by differences in other institutional factors. We use the World Values Surveys to identify the relationship between intensity of religious beliefs and economic attitudes, controlling for country fixed effects. We study several economic attitudes toward cooperation, the government, wo

The Corporate Governance Role of the Media
Date Posted: Nov  07, 2002
In this paper we discuss the role of the media in pressuring corporate managers and directors to behave in ways that are 'socially acceptable'. Sometimes this coincides with shareholders' value maximization, others not. We provide both anecdotal and systematic evidence that media affect companies' policy toward the environment and the amount of corporate resources that are diverted to the sole advantage of controlling shareholders. Our results have important consequences for the focus of the cor

Does Local Financial Development Matter?
Date Posted: Jul  26, 2002
We study the effects of differences in local financial development within an integrated financial market. To do so, we construct a new indicator of financial development by estimating a regional effect on the probability that, ceteris paribus, a household is shut off from the credit market. By using this indicator we find that financial development enhances the probability an individual starts their own business, favours entry, increases competition, and promotes growth of firms. As predicted by

Does Local Financial Development Matter?
Date Posted: May  09, 2002
We study the effects of differences in local financial development within an integrated financial market. To do so, we construct a new indicator of financial development by estimating a regional effect on the probability that, ceteris paribus, a household is shut off from the credit market. By using this indicator we find that financial development enhances the probability an individual starts his own business, favors entry, increases competition, and promotes growth of firms. As predicted by th

Private Benefits of Control: An International Comparison
Date Posted: Feb  20, 2002
Based on 412 control transactions between 1990 and 2000 we construct a measure of the private benefits of control in 39 countries. We find that the value of control ranges between -4% and +65%, with an average of 14%. As predicted by theory, in countries where private benefits of control are larger capital markets are less developed, ownership is more concentrated, and privatizations are less likely to take place as public offerings. We also analyse what institutions are most important in curbin

Private Benefits of Control: An International Comparison
Date Posted: Feb  19, 2002
We construct a measure of the private benefits of control in 39 countries based on 412 control transactions between 1990 and 2000. We find that the value of control ranges between 4% and +65%, with an average of 14 percent. As predicted by theory, in countries where private benefits of control are larger capital markets are less developed, ownership is more concentrated, and privatizations are less likely to take place as public offerings. We also analyze what institutions are most important in

The Influence of the Financial Revolution on the Nature of Firms
Date Posted: Oct  05, 2001
Major technological, regulatory, and institutional changes have made finance more widely available in recent years, amounting to a bone fide 'financial revolution'. In this article, we focus on the impact the financial revolution has had on the way firms are (or should be) organized and managed, and on the policy consequences.

The Governance of the New Enterprise
Date Posted: Oct  05, 2001
The changing nature of the corporation forces us to re-examine much of what we take for granted in corporate governance. What precisely is the entity that is being governed? How does the governance system obtain power over it, and what determines the division of power between various stakeholders? And is the objective of allocating power only to enhance the returns of outside investors? In this paper we argue that, given the changing nature of the firm, the focus of corporate governance must shi

What Determines Firm Size?
Date Posted: Oct  04, 2001
Motivated by theories of the firm, which we classify as technological' or organizational,' we analyze the determinants of firm size across industries and across countries in a sample of 15 European countries. We find that, on average, firms facing larger markets are larger. At the industry level, we find firms in the utility sector are large, perhaps because they enjoy a natural, or officially sanctioned, monopoly. Capital intensive industries, high wage industries, and industries that do a lot

The Influence of the Financial Revolution on the Nature of Firms
Date Posted: May  10, 2001
Major technological, regulatory, and institutional changes have made finance more widely available in recent years, amounting to a bona fide 'financial revolution'. In this article, we focus on the impact the financial revolution has had on the way firms are (or should be) organized and managed, and on the policy consequences.

The Great Reversals: The Politics of Financial Development in the 20th Century
Date Posted: May  03, 2001
We show that the development of the financial sector does not change monotonically over time. In particular, we find that by most measures, countries were more financially developed in 1913 than in 1980 and only recently have they surpassed their 1913 levels. This pattern is inconsistent with most recent theories of why cross-country differences in financial development do not track differences in economic development, since these theories are based upon time-invariant factors, such as a country

The Firm as a Dedicated Hierarchy: A Theory of the Origin and Growth of Firms
Date Posted: Apr  09, 2001
A fundamental problem entrepreneurs face in the formative stages of their businesses is how to provide incentives for employees to protect, rather than steal, the source of organizational rents. We study how the entrepreneur's response to this problem will determine the organization's internal structure, growth, and its eventual size. In particular, our model suggests large, steep hierarchies will predominate in physical capital intensive industries, and these will typically have seniority-base

Investment-Cash Flow Sensitivities are not Valid Measures of Financing Constraints
Date Posted: Apr  01, 2001
Kaplan and Zingales [1997] provide both theoretical arguments and empirical evidence that investment-cash flow sensitivities are not good indicators of financing constraints. Fazzari, Hubbard and Petersen [1999] criticize those findings. In this note, we explain how the Fazzari et al. [1999] criticisms are either very supportive of the claims in Kaplan and Zingales [1997] or incorrect. We conclude with a discussion of unanswered questions.

In Search of New Foundations
Date Posted: Apr  01, 2001
In this paper I argue that corporate finance theory, empirical research, practical applications, and policy recommendations are deeply rooted in an underlying theory of the firm. I also argue that while the existing theories have delivered very important and useful insights, they seem to be quite ineffective in helping us cope with the new type of firms that are emerging. I outline the characteristics that a new theory of the firm should satisfy and how such a theory could change the way we do c

Corporate Ownership Structures: Private versus Social Optimality
Date Posted: Aug  04, 2000
This paper analyzes the inefficiencies that might arise in the ownership structure chosen at the initial public offering stage. We show that, contrary to what is commonly believed, the desire of initial owners to maximize their proceeds leads them to choices that, although privately optimal, may be socially inefficient. This distortion tends to be in the direction of excessive incidence of controlling shareholder structures and excessive divestment of cash flow rights. Our analysis has far-re

Power in a Theory of the Firm
Date Posted: Jul  17, 2000
Transactions take place in the firm rather than in the market because the firm offers agents" who make specific investments power. Past literature emphasizes the allocation of ownership as the" primary mechanism by which the firm does this. Within the contractibility assumptions of this" literature, we identify a potentially superior mechanism, the regulation of access to critical resources. " Access can be better than ownership because: i) the power agents get from access is more contingent"

Survival of the Fittest or the Fattest? Exit and Financing in the Trucking Industry
Date Posted: Jul  17, 2000
This paper studies the impact that capital market imperfections have on the natural" selection of the most efficient firms by estimating the effect of the pre-deregulation level of" leverage on the survival of trucking firms after the Carter deregulation. Highly leveraged" carriers are less likely to survive the deregulation shock, even after controlling for various" measures of efficiency. This effect is stronger in the imperfectly competitive segment of the" motor carrier industry. High d

The Tyranny of the Inefficient: An Enquiry into the Adverse Consequences of Power Struggles
Date Posted: Jun  11, 2000
Life is replete with instances where two closely related parties forego mutually advantageous opportunities: peace treaties are not signed, inefficient regulations are not altered, and possibilities for investment are frittered away. Since the parties are in close contact, asymmetric information cannot be an explanation for the failure to agree. The explanation this paper offers is based on the assumption that when two parties interact repeatedly, not all aspects of the relationship are contra

Why Do Companies Go Public? An Empirical Analysis
Date Posted: Jun  10, 2000
This paper empirically analyzes the determinants of an initial public offering (IPO) and the consequences of this decision on a company's investment and financial policy. We compare both the ex ante and the ex post characteristics of IPOs with those of a large sample of privately held companies of similar size. We find that (i) the likelihood of an IPO is positively related to the market-to-book ratio prevailing in the relevant industrial sector and to a company's size, (ii) IPOs are followed

Financial Dependence and Growth
Date Posted: May  13, 2000
Does finance affect economic growth? A number of studies have identified a positive correlation between the level of development of a country's financial sector and the rate of growth of its per capita income. As has been noted elsewhere, the observed correlation does not necessarily imply a causal relationship. This paper examines whether financial development facilitates economic growth by scrutinizing one rationale for such a relationship; that financial development reduces the costs of ex

Capital Structure Choice When Managers Are In Control: Entrenchment versus Efficiency
Date Posted: May  10, 2000
Recent capital structure theories have emphasized the role of debt in minimizing the agency costs that arise from the separation between ownership and control. In this paper we argue that capital structure choices themselves are affected by the same agency problem. We show that, in general, the shareholders' and the manager's capital structure choices differ not only in their levels, but also in their sensitivities to the cost of financial distress and taxes. We argue that only the managerial

The Tyranny of the Inefficient: An Enquiry into the Adverse Consequences of Power Struggles
Date Posted: Mar  22, 2000
There are many instances where two closely related parties do not agree to mutually advantageous transactions even when there are simple enforceable contracts, and side transfers of fungible resources, that would implement them. Peace treaties are not signed, inefficient regulations are not altered, and possibilities for investment are frittered away. One reason, which has been extensively analyzed in the literature, is the presence of informational asymmetries. In this paper we focus on another

Do Investment-Cashflow Sensitivities Provide Useful Measures of Financing Constraints?
Date Posted: Jun  25, 1998
This paper investigates the relationship between financing constraints and investment-cash flow sensitivities by analyzing the firms identified by Fazzari, Hubbard, and Petersen [1988] as having unusually high investment-cash flow sensitivities. We find that firms that appear less financially constrained exhibit significantly greater sensitivities than firms that appear more financially constrained. We find this pattern for the entire sample period, sub-periods, and individual years. These resul

What Do We Know about Capital Structure? Some Evidence from International Data
Date Posted: Feb  11, 1998
We investigate the determinants of capital structure choice by analyzing the financing decisions of public firms in the major industrialized countries. At an aggregate level, firm leverage is fairly similar across the G-7 countries. We find that factors identified by previous studies as correlated in the cross-section with firm leverage in the U.S., are similarly correlated in other countries as well. However, a deeper examination of the U.S. and foreign evidence suggests that the theoretical un