Sabrina T. Howell

NYU Stern School of Business
KMC 9-93
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
NBER Program Affiliations: PR
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2018When Investor Incentives and Consumer Interests Diverge: Private Equity in Higher Education
with Charlie Eaton, Constantine Yannelis: w24976
This paper uses private equity buyouts to study a transition from lower- to higher-powered profit-maximizing incentives in higher education, a sector heavily dependent on government subsidy. Private equity owners have especially high-powered incentives to maximize profits. In a subsidized industry, this could intensify focus on capturing government aid at the expense of consumer outcomes. Employing novel data on 88 private equity deals and 994 schools with private equity ownership, we find that private equity buyouts lead to higher enrollment and profits, but also to lower education inputs, higher tuition, higher per-student debt, lower graduation rates, lower student loan repayment rates, and lower earnings among graduates. Neither changes to the student body composition nor a selection m...
June 2018Initial Coin Offerings: Financing Growth with Cryptocurrency Token Sales
with Marina Niessner, David Yermack: w24774
Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are a significant innovation in entrepreneurial finance. The sale of a blockchain-based digital token associated with a specific platform or venture is a new financing instrument with some parallels to IPOs, venture capital, and pre-sale crowdfunding. We examine the relationship between issuer characteristics and measures of success, with a focus on liquidity, using 453 ICOs that collectively raise $5.7 billion. We also employ proprietary transaction data in a case study of Filecoin, one of the most successful ICOs. We find that liquidity and trading volume are higher when issuers offer voluntary disclosure, credibly commit to the project, and signal quality.
May 2018Listing Delays and Innovation: Evidence from Chinese IPOs
with Lin William Cong: w24657
Regulators have suspended IPOs in China on numerous occasions, exposing firms already approved to IPO to indeterminate listing delay. These disruptions curtail firms’ timely access to risk capital and increase uncertainty. After firms ultimately list, suspension-induced delay substantially reduces their innovation activity, measured using patent quantity and quality. These effects begin during the delay and endure for years after listing, while impacts on other firm outcomes are short-lived. The corporate innovation process, like an individual’s accumulation of human capital, has a cumulative dimension. Interrupting it can be detrimental in the long term, highlighting the importance of well-functioning IPO markets.
September 2017Are New Venture Competitions Useful?
This paper uses administrative data from 87 new venture competitions in 17 U.S. states to show that winning has large, positive effects on measures of subsequent venture success, including employment and financing. While cash prizes are valuable, especially for founders who are likely financially constrained, winning is independently useful. Certification may be one mechanism, but it does not seem to be the primary one. An alternative is that competitions help entrepreneurs learn about their projects’ quality. Receiving negative feedback is shown to increase venture abandonment, suggesting that competitions are useful in part because they facilitate faster type revelation.
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