Essays in Empirical Corporate Finance

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Essays in Empirical Corporate Finance

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In the first chapter, using a new measure of labor mobility instrumented by state-level shocks, I find that an increase in worker mobility negatively affects firms' average leverage and investment rates, but only in firms that rely on high-skill workers. I develop a dynamic model that provides an economic mechanism to rationalize these findings. In the model, firms make investment and financing decisions, hire labor with different levels of skill and mobility, and set wages through bargaining. Skilled workers with high mobility receive high-value outside job offers more frequently. Firms that rely on this type of labor operate with low leverage in anticipation of the outside offer shocks, in order to retain their workforce against those shocks. The differences in investment are generated both by the capital-labor complementarity and by the differences in financing policies, which affect the cost of capital. I estimate the model to quantify the effect of changes in labor mobility on different aspects of firms' decisions. Counterfactual analyses imply that policies that exogenously change workers' ability to move among firms have a sizable impact on the leverage, investment, hiring, and wages of high-skill firms. My results highlight the importance of considering this channel in evaluating the economic impact of policies that change workers' mobility. Tests using American data from 1970 to 2015 support the behavioral hypothesis that firms Cater to investor whims. In the second chapter, we show that the standard tests cannot distinguish between the behavioral interpretation, and a rational model in which the firm optimally chooses investment, equity issuance, and dividends; while investors optimally choose consumption, equity, and bank account deposits. The rational model shows the importance of two-way financial flows between investors and firms that are generally ignored in the literature. Using booms, sentiment, and behavioral mispricing measures, we construct new tests of behavioral Catering Theory. In all cases that theory is rejected. In the third chapter, using a comprehensive set of news stories, we find a stark difference in market responses to positive and negative price shocks accompanied by new information. When there is a news story about a firm, positive price shocks are followed by reversal, while negative ones result in drift. This is interpreted as the stock market overreaction to good news and underreaction to bad news. These seemingly contradictory results can be explained in a single framework, considering the interaction of retail investors with attention bias, and arbitrageurs with short-run capital constraints. Consistent with this hypothesis, we find that both patterns are stronger when the attention bias is stronger, and when the arbitrage capital is scarce.



University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2018. Major: Business Administration. Advisor: Murray Frank. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 180 pages.

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Sanati, Ali. (2018). Essays in Empirical Corporate Finance. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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