Tag: Adverse selection

Prices and Informed Trading

Vyacheslav Fos is Assistant Professor of Finance at Boston College. This post is based on an article by Professor Fos and Pierre Collin-Dufresne, Professor of Finance at the Swiss Finance Institute. Related research from the Program on Corporate Governance includes Pre-Disclosure Accumulations by Activist Investors: Evidence and Policy by Lucian Bebchuk, Alon Brav, Robert J. Jackson Jr., and Wei Jiang; and The Law and Economics of Blockholder Disclosure by Lucian Bebchuk and Robert J. Jackson Jr. (discussed on the Forum here).

In our paper, Do Prices Reveal the Presence of Informed Trading?, forthcoming in the Journal of Finance, we study how empirical measures of stock illiquidity and of adverse selection respond to informed trading by activist shareholders.

An extensive body of theory suggests that stock illiquidity, as measured by the bid-ask spread and by the price impact of trades, should be increasing in the information asymmetry between market participants. An extensive empirical literature employing these illiquidity measures thus assumes that they capture information asymmetry. But, do these empirical measures of adverse selection actually increase with information asymmetry? To test this question one would ideally separate informed from uninformed trades ex-ante and measure their relative impact on price changes. However, since we generally do not know the traders’ information sets, this is hard to do in practice.


Seasoned Equity Offerings, Corporate Governance, and Investments

The following post comes to us from E. Han Kim and Amiyatosh Purnanandam, both of the Department of Finance at the University of Michigan.

In our paper, Seasoned Equity Offerings, Corporate Governance, and Investments, forthcoming in the Review of Finance, we assess how the strength of governance affects investor confidence about management’s intended uses of the proceeds from SEOs. Our primary tests are conducted using difference-in-differences approaches using the staggered enactments of business combination statutes (BCS) as an exogenous shock weakening external pressure for good governance from the market for corporate control.

These tests are supplemented by two additional analyses, one relying on shareholder-value-reducing acquisitions as an ex post proxy for weak governance; the other relying on top management’s firm-related wealth sensitivity to shareholder value as a proxy for the strength of internal governance. These empirical analyses cover different sample periods spanning 1982 through 2006. Investor reaction to SEOs is positively and significantly related to the strength of governance regardless of which empirical strategy we use and which time period we examine.

The economic magnitudes of governance impacts are surprisingly large, explaining much of the negative stock price reactions to the announcement of SEOs. Absent secondary offerings, investors’ main concern with SEOs is whether management will use the proceeds productively or wastefully. Good governance enhances investor confidence, helping firms raise external equity at lower costs.


The Relation between CEO Compensation and Past Performance

The following post comes to us from Rajiv Banker, Professor of Accounting at Temple University; Masako Darrough, Professor of Accountancy at City University of New York; Rong Huang, Assistant Professor of Accountancy at City University of New York; and Jose Plehn-Dujowich, Assistant Professor Accounting at Temple University.

Most of the empirical work on executive compensation investigates the role of contemporaneous performance measures in setting cash compensation, ignoring the relevance of past performance measures and the structure of cash compensation. In our paper, The Relation between CEO Compensation and Past Performance, forthcoming in The Accounting Review, we focus on the relation between cash compensation components (salary and bonus) and past performance measures as signals of a CEO’s ability.

We first develop a simple two-period principal-agent model with moral hazard and adverse selection. Our model suggests that salary is adjusted to meet the reservation utility and information rent, and is positively correlated over time to reflect ability. Bonus serves to address moral hazard and adverse selection problems by separating agents into contracts with different levels of risk. Agents are screened and receive different bonus arrangements according to their types. The higher an agent’s type, the more sensitive his bonus is to contemporaneous performance. A higher ability agent receives a larger portion of his compensation in the form of bonus and less as salary. For a given agent, salary increases with his past performance and higher current salary predicts higher future performance. Current bonus, however, is negatively correlated with both past and future performance.


The Need for Both Strong Regulators and Strong Laws

The following paper comes to us from Mark Humphery-Jenner of the Australian School of Business at the University of New South Wales.

In the paper, The Need for Both Strong Regulators and Strong Laws: Evidence from a Natural Experiment, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, I analyze whether strong law is effective in the presence of weak regulatory institutions. This is a live-issue for policy setters as they attempt to reform the financial system to prevent future market misconduct. This has become particularly relevant as the EU has attempted to reform securities laws under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), and the regulation of financial markets in the US has sustained recent criticism. I use a difference-in-difference methodology to disentangle the effects of the design of news laws from their actual implementation, and I find that strong law in the presence of weak regulations might actually worsen market conditions. This provides additional empirical support for the prediction in Bhattacharya and Daouk (2009) that ‘no law’ can sometimes be better than ‘good law’. This also suggests that empirical law and finance work should carefully distinguish between the mere presence of laws, and their enforcement.


Do Institutional Investors Influence Capital Structure Decisions?

The following post comes to us from Roni Michaely, Professor of Finance at Cornell University, and Christopher Vincent of the Department of Finance at Cornell University.

In the paper, Do Institutional Investors Influence Capital Structure Decisions?, which was recently made publicly available on SSRN, we analyze whether institutional holdings influence capital structure decisions, and whether firms’ financial leverage affects institutional investors’ decisions to hold their equity. Theories of capital structure imply that firms choose their leverage in response to market frictions such as agency costs and asymmetric information. Meanwhile, institutional monitoring and information-gathering affect firms’ agency costs and information environment, opening channels through which institutions may influence firms’ choices of leverage. In the agency framework, institutional investors serve as an external disciplinary mechanism for management, lessening the need for internal disciplinary mechanisms such as debt. In the asymmetric information framework, institutional investors decrease information asymmetry between outside and inside shareholders, which reduces the adverse selection costs of equity and lowers the cost of equity relative to debt, serving to decrease the amount of debt needed for a separating signaling equilibrium.


Equilibrium in the Initial Public Offerings Market

The following post comes to us from Jay Ritter, Professor of Finance at the University of Florida.

The critical review article, Equilibrium in the Initial Public Offerings Market, forthcoming in the Annual Review of Financial Economic,  focuses on selected topics dealing with initial public offerings (IPOs) of equity securities, emphasizing issues that are of current interest to academics, practitioners, and policymakers.

On average, the average first-day returns on IPOs in the U.S. and most other countries appear to be higher than they should be if companies were trying to maximize the amount of money being raised. I criticize the ability of popular asymmetric information-based models to explain the magnitude of the underpricing of IPOs that is observed. I suggest that the quantitative magnitude of underpricing can be explained with a market structure in which underwriters want to underprice excessively, issuers are focused on services bundled with underwriting rather than on maximizing the offer proceeds, and there is limited competition between underwriters. I explain why competition is limited, in spite of the existence of dozens of underwriters competing for deals.


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