Working Papers:

Individualism During Crises

(Joint with Jingjing Li, Ting Xu and Natasha Z. Foutz)

Abstract: Individualism has long been linked to economic growth. Using the COVID-19 pandemic, we show that such a culture can hamper the economy's response to crises, a period with heightened coordination frictions. Exploiting U.S. counties' frontier experience during the 1790-1890 period as exogenous variation in individualism, we show that more individualist counties engage less in social distancing and charitable transfers, two important collective actions during the pandemic. An interquartile increase in individualism offsets 41% of the effect of state lockdowns on social distancing and dampens COVID-related donations by 48%. We confirm the social distancing results at the individual level using de-identified cellular location data and exploiting migrants for identification. The effects of individualism are stronger in counties where social distancing has higher externality (i.e., higher population density and more seniors). Our results replicate at the country level and are not driven by political beliefs or social capital. Overall, this paper suggests that individualism can amplify economic downturns by exacerbating collective action problems precisely when such actions are most valuable.

Presentations: University of Minnesota (Carlson MIS seminar)

Globally Consistent Creditor Protection, Reallocation, and Productivity

Summary: Globally consistent strong creditor protection drives up aggregate productivity through reallocating resources from less to more productive firms.

Abstract: This paper documents that resource reallocation across firms is an important mechanism through which creditor rights affect real outcomes. I exploit the staggered adoption of an international convention that provides globally consistent strong creditor protection for aircraft finance. After this reform, country-level productivity in the aviation sector increases by 12%, driven mostly by across-firm reallocation. Productive airlines borrow more, expand, and adopt new technology at the expense of unproductive ones. Such reallocation is facilitated by (i) easier and quicker asset redeployment; and (ii) the influx of foreign financiers offering innovative financial products to improve credit allocative efficiency. I further document an increase in competition and an improvement in the breadth and the quality of products available to consumers.

Presentations: University of Texas-Dallas (Naveen Jindal), AEA, HEC Paris, Ohio State (Fisher), Boston College (Carroll), Georgetown University (McDonough), Columbia Business School; University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (Gies), UC San Diego (Rady), Stanford University (GSB), UNC Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler), University of British Columbia (Sauder), Rochester (Simon), University of Colorado Boulder (Leeds), University of Oxford, Goethe University Frankfurt, WFA 2019, Annual Conference in Financial Economics Research by Eagle Labs at the Arison School of Business IDC Herzliya, SFS Cavalcade North America 2019, Oxford Finance Job Market workshop, HEC Paris Workshop, Wheeler Institute PhD Conference, 2018 Trans-Atlantic Doctoral Conference, London Business School

The Political Economy of Decentralization: Evidence from Bank Bailouts

(Joint with Rainer Haselmann, Thomas Kick and Vikrant Vig)

Read more here: ProMarket, 2017 CICF Best Paper Award

Summary: Bank bailout decisions can be distorted by personal considerations of local politicians, and such decentralised decision-making leads to undesirable outcome in the long run.

Abstract: In this paper, we examine how the organizational design of bailout institutions affects the outcome of bank bailout decisions. In the German savings bank sector, distress events can be resolved either by a decentralized county-level politician or by a centralized state-level association. We document that decisions taken by the politicians at the decentralized level are distorted by personal considerations. While the occurrence of distress is not related to the electoral cycle, the probability of local politicians injecting taxpayers' money into a bank in distress is 30 percentage points lower in the year directly preceding an election. Using the timing of the distress event in the electoral cycle as an instrument for who bails out the distressed bank, we show that decentralized bailouts result in inferior economic outcomes. These bailed-out banks perform more poorly and provision credit less efficiently when compared to more centralized bailouts. We also observe a significantly worse real sector performance of localities that have undergone decentralized bailouts. Overall, our results highlight the political economy of decentralization -- local politicians derive private benefits from controlling the bank at the expense of citizens at large.

Recent conferences: The 2018 Rising Stars Conference, CICF 2017, WFA 2017, The Stigler Center Political Economy of Finance 2017

Cross-Border Institutions and the Globalization of Innovation

(Joint with Jean-Marie Meier and Ting Xu)

Summary: Strong cross-border institutions are an important driver of the globalization of innovation.

Abstract: We identify strong cross-border institutions as a driver of the globalization of innovation. Using 67 million patents from over 100 patent offices, we introduce novel measures of innovation diffusion and collaboration. Exploiting staggered bilateral investment treaties as shocks to cross-border property rights and contract enforcement, we show that signatory countries increase technology adoption and sourcing from each other; they also increase R&D collaborations. These interactions result in technological convergence. The effects are particularly strong for process innovation, and for countries that are technological laggards or have weak domestic institutions. The mobility of financial and human capital are the key channels.

Presentations: 3rd Junior Entrepreneurial Finance and Innovation Workshop, MFA (scheduled), FIRS (cancelled), Northwestern CLBE Conference on Innovation Economics (scheduled), EFA (scheduled)

Government Ownership of Banks and Corporate Innovation

(Joint with Rainer Haselmann, Vikrant Vig and Beatrice Weder di Mauro)

Summary: Government ownership of banks negatively affects corporate innovation.

Abstract: In this paper we analyze the impact of government and private ownership of banks on corporate innovation. We find that firms with more financing from government-owned banks are less (more) likely to initiate (exit) innovation. Among the innovators, firms that finance more through private banks have more innovative output. These findings could be driven by a selection of lending relationships based on firms' preferences to innovate or, alternatively, by the crowding out of innovation due to the presence of government-owned banks. To differentiate between these two explanations, we use the timing of government-owned bank distress events over the electoral cycle as an instrument. We show a remarkable increase in innovation following an exogenous decrease in government ownership of banks. Moreover, the allocation of credit is more responsive to the financing needs of future innovators among private banks, shedding light on the mechanism. Overall our results suggest that government involvement in the allocation of credit crowds out private banking and comes at the cost of lower corporate innovation.

Presentations: AFA 2019, Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Symposium 2018, CREDIT 2017 Conference, EEA 2017, CICF 2017, London Business School