NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers and Publications by William Mann

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June 2017Finance, farms, and the Fed's early years
with Bruce Carlin: w23511
We provide causal evidence that discount rate changes by the Federal Reserve affected economic output in the 1920s. Our identification strategy exploits county-level variation in access to the Fed's discount window, and we implement this strategy with hand-collected data on banking and agriculture in Illinois in the early 20th century. The mechanism for the Fed's effect on agriculture was a bank credit channel, operating independently of any deflationary effect on money supply. Our findings suggest that the Fed deliberately managed transitory shocks during 1920-1921, mitigating debt burdens with which farms would struggle in the years leading to the Great Depression.
January 2013Financing Through Asset Sales
with Alex Edmans: w18677
Most research on firm financing studies the choice between debt and equity. We model an alternative source - non-core asset sales - and allow asset sales to occur for operational as well as financing motives. We identify three new factors that drive a firm's choice between selling assets and equity. First, equity investors own a claim to the cash raised. Since cash is certain, this mitigates the information asymmetry of equity (the "certainty effect"). In contrast to Myers and Majluf (1984), even if assets exhibit less information asymmetry, the firm issues equity if the financing need is high. This result is robust to using the cash for an uncertain investment. Second, firms can disguise the sale of a low-quality asset as instead being motivated by operational reasons (dissynergies), and ...

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