NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Joel Shapiro

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Working Papers

February 2009The Credit Ratings Game
with Patrick Bolton, Xavier Freixas: w14712
The spectacular failure of top-rated structured finance products has brought renewed attention to the conflicts of interest of Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs). We model both the CRA conflict of understating credit risk to attract more business, and the issuer conflict of purchasing only the most favorable ratings (issuer shopping), and examine the effectiveness of a number of proposed regulatory solutions of CRAs. We find that CRAs are more prone to inflate ratings when there is a larger fraction of naive investors in the market who take ratings at face value, or when CRA expected reputation costs are lower. To the extent that in booms the fraction of naive investors is higher, and the reputation risk for CRAs of getting caught understating credit risk is lower, our model predicts that CRAs ...
November 2004Educational Opportunity and Income Inequality
with Paul Willen, Igal Hendel: w10879
Affordable higher education is, and has been, a key element of social policy in the United States with broad bipartisan support. Financial aid has substantially increased the number of people who complete university - generally thought to be a good thing. We show, however, that making education more affordable can increase income inequality. The mechanism that drives our results is a combination of credit constraints and the `signaling' role of education first explored by Spence (1973). When borrowing for education is difficult, lack of a college education could mean that one is either of low ability or of high ability but with low financial resources. When government programs make borrowing or lower tuition more affordable, high-ability persons become educated and leave the uneducated poo...
June 2004Conflicts of Interest, Information Provision, and Competition in Banking
with Patrick Bolton, Xavier Freixas: w10571
In some markets, such as the market for drugs or for financial services, sellers have better information than buyers regarding the matching between the buyer's needs and the good's actual characteristics. Depending on the market structure, this may lead to conflicts of interest and/or the under-provision of information by the seller. This paper studies this issue in the market for financial services. The analysis presents a new model of competition between banks, as banks' price competition influences the ensuing incentives for truthful information revelation. We compare two different firm structures, specialized banking, where financial institutions provide a unique financial product, and one-stop banking, where a financial institution is able to provide several financial products which a...

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