Social Interaction at Work with Hans K. Hvide

Forthcoming Journal of Financial Economics

Stock market investment decisions of individuals are positively correlated with those of coworkers. Sorting of unobservably similar individuals to the same workplaces is unlikely to explain this pattern, as evidenced by the investment behavior of individuals who move between plants. Purchases made under stronger coworker purchase activity are not associated with higher returns. Moreover, social interaction appears to drive the purchase of within-industry stocks. Overall, we find a strong influence of coworkers on investment choices, but not an influence that improves the quality of investment decisions.

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Money and Liquidity in Financial Markets with Kjell G. Nyborg

Journal of Financial Economics, (2014) 112, 30-52

We argue that there is a connection between the interbank market for liquidity and the broader financial markets, which has its basis in demand for liquidity by banks. Tightness in the market for liquidity leads banks to engage in what we term “liquidity pull-back,” which involves selling financial assets either by banks directly or by levered investors. Empirical tests on the stock market are supportive. Tighter interbank markets are associated with relatively more volume in more liquid stocks; selling pressure, especially in more liquid stocks; and transitory negative returns. We control for market-wide uncertainty and in the process also contribute to the literature on portfolio rebalancing. Our general point is that money matters in financial markets.

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The Shareholder Base and Payout Policy with Andriy Bodnaruk

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, (2013) 48, 729-760

We examine the relation between the shareholder base and payout policy. Consistent with the idea that the shareholder base is related to the cost of external financing, we find that firms with small shareholder bases have lower payout levels and maintain higher cash holdings. We show that undertaking an open market repurchase results in a significant reduction in the size of the shareholder base. Consequently, we find that firms with small shareholder bases are less likely to undertake a repurchase (reduce the shareholder base even further) and are more likely to pay special dividends.

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Does investor recognition predict returns? with Andriy Bodnaruk

Journal of Financial Economics, (2009) 91, 202-226

Merton [1987. A simple model of capital market equilibrium with incomplete information. Journal of Finance 42, 483–510] shows that stocks about which not all investors are informed should yield a return premium. This premium depends on the shadow cost of incomplete information which in turn depends on the shareholder base, relative market size, and idiosyncratic risk. Utilizing a comprehensive database of Swedish shareholdings, we demonstrate that stock returns are positively related to the shadow cost. We also find that the shareholder base is negatively related to returns when controlling for size and idiosyncratic risk. Zero-cost portfolios based on the shadow cost/shareholder base yield substantial trading profits that are never positively correlated with the market and are only modestly explained by the four-factor model.

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Disclosure, Investment and Regulation

Journal of Financial Intermediation, (2006) 15, 285-306 (Lead Article)

This paper provides a framework to analyze voluntary and mandatory disclosure. Since improved disclosure reduces the entrepreneur’s ability to extract private benefits, it secures funding for new investments, but also provides existing claimholders with a windfall gain. As a result, the entrepreneur may choose to forgo investment in favor of extracting more private benefits. A mandatory disclosure standard reduces inefficient extraction and increases investment efficiency. Although the optimal standard is higher than the entrepreneur’s optimal choice, it can be less than complete in order not to deter investment. The model also shows that better legal shareholder protection goes together with higher disclosure standards and that harmonization of disclosure standards may be detrimental.

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