Robert W. Vishny's research while affiliated with University of Chicago and other places

Publications (107)

Presentation
Full-text available
This study investigates how organizations can raise capital without ceding significant influence over their operations to investors. The purpose of this research is to provide light on the differences between theoretical and practical approaches to the subjects of corporate finance and management separation, to mention a few examples of topics cove...
Article
We model a financial market in which investor beliefs are shaped by representativeness. Investors overreact to a series of good news, because such a series is representative of a good state. A few bad news do not change investor minds because the good state is still representative, but enough bad news leads to a radical change in beliefs and a fina...
Article
We introduce the model of asset management developed in Gennaioli, Shleifer, and Vishny (“Money Doctors,” Journal of Finance, forthcoming 2015) into a Solow-style neoclassical growth model with diminishing returns to capital. Savers rely on trusted intermediaries to manage their wealth (claims on capital stock), who can charge fees above costs to t...
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We examine the business model of traditional commercial banks when they compete with shadow banks. While both types of intermediaries create safe “money-like” claims, they go about this in different ways. Traditional banks create money-like claims by holding illiquid fixed-income assets to maturity, and they rely on deposit insurance and costly equ...
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We present a new model of money management, in which investors delegate portfolio management to professionals based not only on performance, but also on trust. Trust in the manager reduces an investor’s perception of the riskiness of a given investment, and allows managers to charge higher fees to investors who trust them more. Money managers compe...
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We present a standard model of financial innovation, in which intermediaries engineer securities with cash flows that investors seek, but modify two assumptions. First, investors (and possibly intermediaries) neglect certain unlikely risks. Second, investors demand securities with safe cash flows. Financial intermediaries cater to these preferences...
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Foreclosures during the 2007 to 2009 recession had a large negative effect on house prices, residential investment, and durable consumption. Our empirical methodology uses state laws requiring a judicial foreclosure as an instrument for actual foreclosures, as well as focusing on zip codes very close to state borders with differing foreclosure laws...
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A simple model is developed in the paper in which two market conditions change over time: (i) investor sentiment or price-insensitive demand; and (ii) feedback trader risk or the propensity of investors to chase trends. The model shows that these conditions partially explain the three anomalies associated with the IPO market: (i) underpricing; (ii)...
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We present a model of shadow banking in which financial intermediaries originate and trade loans, assemble these loans into diversified portfolios, and then finance these portfolios externally with riskless debt. In this model: i) outside investor wealth drives the demand for riskless debt and indirectly for securitization, ii) intermediary assets...
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Analysts of the recent financial crisis often refer to the role of asset "fire sales" in depleting the balance sheets of financial institutions and aggravating the fragility of the financial system. The term "fire sale" has been around since the nineteenth century to describe firms selling smoke-damaged merchandise at cut-rate prices in the afterma...
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In a January 2009 lecture on the financial crisis, Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke advocated a new Fed policy of credit easing, defined as a combination of lending to financial institutions, providing liquidity directly to key credit markets, and buying of long term securities. We show that Bernanke's analysis and recommendations can be naturally...
Article
We present a standard model of financial innovation, in which intermediaries engineer securities with cash flows that investors seek, but modify two assumptions. First, investors (and possibly intermediaries) neglect certain unlikely risks. Second, investors demand securities with safe cash flows. Financial intermediaries cater to these preferences...
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We propose a theory of financial intermediaries operating in markets influenced by investor sentiment. In our model, banks make, securitize, distribute, and trade loans, or they hold cash. They also borrow money, using their security holdings as collateral. Banks maximize profits, and there are no conflicts of interest between bank shareholders and...
Article
Full-text available
We investigate the relationship between management ownership and market valuation of the fi rm, as measured by Tobin's Q. In a 1980 cross-section of 371 Fortune 500 fi rms, we fi nd evidence of a signifi cant nonmonotonic relationship. Tobin's Q fi rst increases, then declines, and fi nally rises slightly as ownership by the board of directors rise...
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Market e#ciency survives the challenge from the literature on long-term return anomalies. Consistent with the market e#ciency hypothesis that the anomalies are chance results, apparent overreaction to information is about as common as underreaction, and post-event continuation of pre-event abnormal returns is about as frequent as post-event reversa...
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Recent research has documented large differences among countries in ownership concentration in publicly trade firms, in the breadth and depth of capital markets, in dividend policies, and access of firms to external finance. A common element to the explanations of these differences is how well investors, both shareholders and creditors, are protect...
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We present a model of the effects of legal protection of minority shareholders and of cash-flow ownership by a controlling shareholder on the valuation of firms. We then test this model using a sample of 539 large firms from 27 wealthy economies. Consistent with the model, we find evidence of higher valuation of firms in countries with better prote...
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We present a model of mergers and acquisitions based on stock market misvaluations of the combining firms. The key ingredients of the model are the relative valuations of the merging firms and the market's perception of the synergies from the combination. The model explains who acquires whom, the choice of the medium of payment, the valuation conse...
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Full-text available
Recent research has documented large differences among countries in ownership concentration in publicly traded firms, in the breadth and depth of capital markets, in dividend policies, and in the access of firms to external finance. A common element to the explanations of these differences is how well investors, both shareholders and creditors, are...
Article
Full-text available
This paper outlines and tests two agency models of dividends. According to the "outcome model," dividends are paid because minority shareholders pressure corporate insiders to disgorge cash. According to the "substitute model," insiders interested in issuing equity in the future pay dividends to establish a reputation for decent treatment of minori...
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In many countries, public sector institutions impose heavy burdens on economic life: heavy and arbitrary taxes retard investment, regulations enrich corrupt bureaucrats, state firms consume national wealth, and the most talented people turn to rent-seeking rather than productive activities. As a consequence of such predatory policies--described in...
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The political economy of trade policy has largely neglected popular election. When legislatures determine protection, politicians supply tariffs that are demanded by their constituents. A model of this political market is specified and tested with data related to the McKinley Tariff of 1890. An index of the extent to which tariff protection accrued...
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We investigate empirically the determinants of the quality of governments in a large cross-section of countries. We assess government performance using measures of government intervention, public sector efficiency, public good provision, size of government, and political freedom. We find that countries that are poor, close to the equator, ethnoling...
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This paper examines legal rules covering protection of corporate shareholders and creditors, the origin of these rules, and the quality of their enforcement in 49 countries. The results show that common-law countries generally have the strongest, and French-civil-law countries the weakest, legal protections of investors, with German- and Scandinavi...
Article
Full-text available
We investigate empirically the determinants of the quality of governments in a large cross-section of countries. We assess government performance using measures of government intervention, public sector efficiency, public good provision, size of government, and political freedom. We find that countries that are poor, close to the equator, ethnoling...
Article
Recent empirical research in finance has uncovered two families of pervasive regularities: underreaction of stock prices to news such as earnings announcements, and overreaction of stock prices to a series of good or bad news. In this paper, we present a parsimonious model of investor sentiment, or of how investors form beliefs, which is consistent...
Article
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This paper addresses the question of why firms pay dividends, the so-called "dividend puzzle", from the agency perspective. We outline two agency models of dividends. On what we call "the outcome" model, dividends are the result of effective pressure by minority shareholders to force corporate insiders to disgorge cash. Under this model, stronger m...
Article
Recent empirical research in finance has uncovered two families of pervasive regularities: underreaction of stock prices to news such as earnings announcements, and overreaction of stock prices to a series of good or bad news. In this paper, we present a parsimonious model of investor sentiment, or of how investors form beliefs, which is consistent...
Article
Full-text available
Using a sample of forty-nine countries, the authors show that countries with poorer investor protections, measured by both the character of legal rules and the quality of law enforcement, have smaller and narrower capital markets. These findings apply to both equity and debt markets. In particular, French civil law countries have both the weakest i...
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This article examines the hypothesis that the superior return to so‐called value stocks is the result of expectational errors made by investors. We study stock price reactions around earnings announcements for value and glamour stocks over a 5‐year period after portfolio formation. The announcement returns suggest that a significant portion of the...
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Several authors suggest that trust is an important determinant of cooperation between strangers in a society, and therefore of performance of social institutions. We argue that trust should be particularly important for the performance of large organizations. In a cross-section of countries, evidence on government performance, participation in civi...
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This article surveys research on corporate governance, with special attention to the importance of legal protection of investors and of ownership concentration in corporate governance systems around the world. Copyright 1997 by American Finance Association.
Article
Full-text available
Market efficiency survives the challenge from the literature on long-term return anomalies. Consistent with the market efficiency hypothesis that the anomalies are chance results, apparent overreaction to information is about as common as underreac-tion, and post-event continuation of pre-event abnormal returns is about as frequent as post-event re...
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When should a government provide a service in-house and when should it contract out provision? The authors develop a model in which the provider can invest in improving the quality of service or reducing cost. If contracts are incomplete, the private provider has a stronger incentive to engage in both quality improvement and cost reduction than a g...
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Textbook arbitrage in financial markets requires no capital and entails no risk. In reality, almost all arbitrage requires capital and is typically risky. Moreover, professional arbitrage is conducted by a relatively small number of highly specialized investors using other people's capital. Such professional arbitrage has a number of interesting im...
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In the United States, the two principal modes of producing local government services are in-house provision by government employees and contracting out to private suppliers, also known as privatization. We examine empirically how U.S. counties choose the mode of providing services. The evidence indicates that state clean-government laws and state l...
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Recent studies argue that the spread-adjusted Taylor rule (STR), which includes a response to the credit spread, replicates monetary policy in the United State. We show (1) STR is a theoretically optimal monetary policy under heterogeneous loan interest rate contracts in both discretionay and commitment monetary policies, (2) however, the optimal r...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines legal rules covering protection of corporate shareholders and creditors, the origin of these rules, and the quality of their enforcement in 49 countries. The results show that common law countries generally have the best, and French civil law countries the worst, legal protections of investors, with German and Scandinavian civil...
Article
This paper describes some characteristics of a dysfunctional legal system, and then proposes some reforms of the legal rules that would encourage private agents to rely on the legal system rather than mafia to structure their transactions. We argue — using both theory and the example of Russia — that legal rules should accommodate rather than inter...
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Public enterprises around the world have proved to be highly inefficient, primarily because they pursue strategies, such as excess employment, that satisfy the political objectives of politicians who control them. Privatization of public enterprises can raise the cost to politicians of influencing them, since subsidies to private firms necessary to...
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Economic policy advice is often dispensed based on a model of a unified, benevolent government. For some transition economies, this model is inappropriate and can lead to bad advice. The more appropriate model — that of a badly divided government — often leads to very different policy recommendations. We illustrate this point using the example of p...
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We present a model of bargaining between politicians and managers that explains many stylized facts about the behavior of state firms, their commercialization, and privatization. Subsidies to public enterprises and bribes from managers to politicians emerge naturally in the model. We use the model and several extensions to understand why commercial...
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Several Eastern European countries have initiated mass privatization programs to transfer state-owned assets to the general population. We show that the decision to pursue mass privatization and even the specific design of the programs are largely dictated by politics. Nonetheless, politically feasible programs can also be made attractive from an e...
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For many years, scholars and investment professionals have argued that value strategies outperform the market. These value strategies call for buying stocks that have low prices relative to earnings, dividends, book assets, or other measures of fundamental value. While there is some agreement that value strategies produce higher returns, the interp...
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The debate over market socialism has ignored the importance of the assumptions about the objectives of politicians in determining resource allocation. Theory and evidence suggest that totalitarian socialism does not lead to efficient resource allocation because dictators do not maximize social welfare. But democratic governments have political obje...
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This paper presents two propositions about corruption. First, the structure of government institutions and of the political process are very important determinants of the level of corruption. In particular, weak governments that do not control their agencies experience very high corruption levels. Second, the illegality of corruption and the need f...
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The net buying (selling) volume of the most net buyer (seller) brokers over a unit period is a widely followed piece of information in Istanbul Stock Market, which most market commentaries inaccurately refer to as “the net money in- or outflow”. It is, in fact, a proxy for big investors’ trading. In this note, we test whether this information has p...
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The authors explore the determinants of liquidation values of assets, particularly focusing on the potential buyers of assets. When a firm in financial distress needs to sell assets, its industry peers are likely to be experiencing problems themselves, leading to asset sales at prices below value in best use. Such illiquidity makes assets cheap in...
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We present a theory of a partial economic reform of a planned economy, similar to the one that took place in Russia since 1988 and in China earlier. In such a reform, some markets are liberalized in the sense that producers can sell output to whomever they want, including private firms, at free prices, but at the same time must sell to state firms...
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We present a new theory of pervasive shortages under socialism, based on the assumption that the planners are self-interested. Because the planners -- meaning bureaucrats in the ministries and managers of firms -- cannot keep the official profits that firms earn, it is in their interest to create shortages of output and to collect bribes from consu...
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This paper reviews the evidence on takeover waves of the 1960s and 1980s, and discusses the implications of this evidence for corporate strategy, agency theory, capital market efficiency, and antitrust policy. We conclude that antitrust policy played an important role in the two takeover waves, and that the wave of the ';60s presents a problem for...
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This paper uses a new data set of quarterly portfolio holdings of 769 all-equity pension funds between 1985 and 1989 to evaluate the potential effect of their trading on stock prices. We address two aspects of trading by money managers: herding, which refers to buying (selling) the same stocks as other managers buy (sell) at the same time; and posi...
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In this paper, we explore the link between asset sales end debt capacity. Asset sales are a common way far firms to raise cash, and so present an alternative to security issues for firms near financial distress. We argue that liquid assets -- those that can be resold at attractive terms -- are good candidates for debt finance because financial dist...
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A country's most talented people typically organize production by others, so they can spread their ability advantage over a larger scale. When they start firms, they innovate and foster growth, but when they become rent seekers, they only redistribute wealth and reduce growth. Occupational choice depends on returns to ability and to scale in each s...
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This brief is divided into four parts. Part one provides a basic description of the agricultural production process as a dynamic flow, producing not only commodities but environmental goods and "bads"(damages). Part two discusses the research agendas that have influenced this production process, and the conflicts between traditional commodity orien...
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One measure of the health of the Social Security system is the difference between the market value of the trust fund and the present value of benefits accrued to date. How should present values be computed for this calculation in light of future uncertainties? We think it is important to use market value. Since claims on accrued benefits are not cu...
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The takeover wave of the 1980s moved large enterprises toward specialization and away from the diversification of the 1960s. The easy availability of funds made acquisitions affordable, while the hands-off antitrust policy allowed mergers between two firms in the same industry. Hostile takeovers and leveraged buyouts fostered the break up of conglo...
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In a sample of 326 U.S. acquisitions between 1975 and 1987, three types of acquisitions have systematically lower and predominantly negative announcement period returns to bidding firms. The returns to bidding shareholders are lower when their firm diversifies, when it buys a rapidly growing target, and when its managers performed poorly before the...
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Full-text available
I modify the uniform-price auction rules in allowing the seller to ration bidders. This allows me to provide a strategic foundation for underpricing when the seller has an interest in ownership dispersion. Moreover, many of the so-called "collusive-seeming" equilibria disappear.
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We describe how managers can entrench themselves by making manager-specific investments that make it costly for shareholders to replace them. By making manager-specific investments, managers can reduce the probability of being replaced extract higher wages and larger perquisites from shareholders, and obtain more latitude in determining corporate s...
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We compare "real business cycle" and increasing returns models of economic fluctuations. In these models, business cycles are driven by productivity changes resulting either from technology shocks or from crucial building blocks that give both types of models hope of fitting the data. These building blocks include durability of goods, specialized l...
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We describe an economy where a durable good is produced with an increasing returns to scale technology. Equilibria in this economy take the form of business cycles in which consumption fluctuates too much and is too low on average. A 2-sector version of this economy with imperfect credit and immobile labor also exhibits aggregate business cycles, i...
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Compared to an average Fortune 500 firm, a target of a hostile takeover is smaller, older, has a lower Tobin's Q, invests less of its income, and is growing more slowly. The low Q seems to be an industry-specific rather than a firm-specific effect. In addition, a hostile target is less likely to be run by a member of the founding family, and has lo...
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This paper explores Paul N. Rosenstein-Rodan's idea that simultaneous industrialization of many sectors of the economy can be profitable for them all even when no sector can break even industrializing alone. The authors analyze this idea in the context of an imperfectly-competitive economy with aggregate demand spillovers, and interpret the big pus...
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We examine performance and management characteristics of Fortune 500 firms experiencing one of three types of control change: internally precipitated management turnover, hostile takeover, and friendly takeover. We find that firms experiencing internally precipitated management turnover perform poorly relative to other firms in their industries, bu...
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When world trade is costly, a country can profitably industrialize only if its domestic markets are large enough. In such a country, for increasing returns technologies to break even, sales must be high enough to cover fixed setup costs. The authors suggest two conditions conducive to industrialization. First, a leading sector, such as agriculture...
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When world trade is costly, a country can profitably industrialize only if its domestic markets are large enough. In such a country, for increasing returns technologies to break even, sales must be high enough to cover fixed setup costs. We suggest two conditions conducive to industrialization. First, a leading sector, such as agriculture or export...
Article
We investigate the relationship between management ownership and market valuation of the firm, as measured by Tobin's Q. In a 1980 cross-section of 371 Fortune 500 firms, we find evidence of a significant nonmonotonic relationship. Tobin's Q first increases, then declines, and finally rises slightly as ownership by the board of directors rises. For...
Article
Like the rest of us, corporate managers have many personal goals and ambitions, only one of which is to get rich. The way they try to run their companies reflects these personal goals. Shareholders, in contrast, deprived of the pleasures of running the company, only care about getting rich from the stock they own. The takeover wave of the 1980s put...
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In the presence of aggregate demand spillovers, an imperfectly competitive firm's profit is positively related to aggregate income, which in turn rises with profits of all firms in the economy. This pecuniary externality makes a dollar of a firm's profit raise aggrega te income by more than a dollar, since other firms' profits also rise, and in thi...