NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Joshua D. Coval

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Working Papers

March 2010Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?
with Lauren Cohen, Christopher Malloy: w15839
This paper employs a new empirical approach for identifying the impact of government spending on the private sector. Our key innovation is to use changes in congressional committee chairmanship as a source of exogenous variation in state-level federal expenditures. In doing so, we show that fiscal spending shocks appear to significantly dampen corporate sector investment and employment activity. These corporate reactions follow both Senate and House committee chair changes, are present among large and small firms and within large and small states, are partially reversed when the congressman resigns, and are most pronounced among geographically-concentrated firms. The effects are economically meaningful and the mechanism - entirely distinct from the more traditional interest rate and tax ch...
May 2005Asset Fire Sales (and Purchases) in Equity Markets
with Erik Stafford: w11357
This paper examines asset fire sales, and institutional price pressure more generally, in equity markets, using market prices of mutual fund transactions caused by capital flows from 1980 to 2003. Funds experiencing large outflows (inflows) tend to decrease (increase) existing positions, which creates price pressure in the securities held in common by these funds. Forced transactions represent a significant cost of financial distress for mutual funds. We find that investors who trade against constrained mutual funds earn highly significant returns for providing liquidity when few others are willing or able. In addition, future flow-driven transactions are predictable, creating an incentive to front-run the anticipated forced trades by funds experiencing extreme capital flows.
December 2004Corporate Financing Decisions When Investors Take the Path of Least Resistance
with Malcolm Baker, Jeremy C. Stein: w10998
We explore the consequences for corporate financial policy that arise when investors exhibit inertial behavior. One implication of investor inertia is that, all else equal, a firm pursuing a strategy of equity-financed growth will prefer a stock-for-stock merger to greenfield investment financed with an SEO. With a merger, acquirer stock is placed in the hands of investors, who, because of inertia, do not resell it all on the open market. If there is downward-sloping demand for acquirer shares, this leads to less price pressure than an SEO, and cheaper equity financing as a result. We develop a simple model to illustrate this idea, and present supporting empirical evidence. Both individual and institutional investors tend to hang on to shares granted them in mergers, with this tendency bei...
December 2002Judging Fund Managers by the Company They Keep
with Randolph Cohen, Lubos Pastor: w9359
We develop a performance evaluation approach in which a fund manager's skill is judged by the extent to which his investment decisions resemble the decisions of managers with distinguished performance records. The proposed performance measures are estimated more precisely than standard measures, because they use historical returns and holdings of many funds to evaluate the performance of a single fund. According to one of our measures, funds with significantly positive ability considerably outnumber funds with significantly negative ability at the end of our sample. Simulations demonstrate that our measures are particularly useful in ranking managers. In an application that relies on such ranking, we find only weak persistence in the performance of U.S. equity funds after accounting for mo...

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