Essays on finance and labor markets
Author(s)He, Alex Xi.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Economics.
David Autor and Daron Acemoglu.
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This thesis consists of three chapters in corporate finance and labor economics. The first two chapters study the interaction of the financial sector and labor market, and the last chapter focuses on corporate R&D investment. The first chapter (co-authored with Daniel le Maire) studies how the market for corporate control disciplines managers who pay high wages. We construct a manager-firm-worker matched panel data set covering the population of Denmark from 1995 to 2011 and develop a framework to measure manager styles in wage-setting by tracking workers and managers across different firms over time. We find that individual managers do matter for wages, and variation in manager fixed effects can explain a significant part of wage differences between firms. Using a comprehensive sample of over 3000 M&As, we show that mergers target high-paying managers and reduce wage premiums but not employment at target firms, and that the effect is stronger in less competitive industries.Establishments with high wage premiums due to generous managers are more likely to be acquired, and experience higher manager turnover and larger wage declines after acquisition. Lower wages have little effect on firms? productivity, and therefore represent a transfer from workers to shareholders. We show that increased market power in product markets or labor markets cannot account entirely for these facts. The reduction in wages accounts for about half the shareholder gains in all M&As, suggesting that rent extraction might be a major motive for merger transactions. The second chapter (co-authored with Daniel le Maire) investigates the effects of liquidity constraints on employment and earnings by exploiting a mortgage reform in Denmark in 1992, which for the first time allowed homeowners to borrow against housing equity for non-housing purposes. Liquidity-constrained homeowners extracted housing equity, increased debt levels and experienced higher earnings growth after the reform.In contrast, the reform had little impact on employment and earnings of homeowners with high liquid asset holdings. Consistent with models of job search with risk aversion, the option to borrow against housing equity allows individuals to seek jobs that have higher earnings growth but higher unemployment risks. This effect is larger for low-income and older individuals. The results imply that relaxing liquidity constraints can increase output, and policies restricting mortgage refinancing during economic distress may backfire in recessions. The third chapter studies the spillovers of corporate R&D investment across different technological fields. I build a measure of technological distance between firms using the citation-based innovation network, which incorporates knowledge spillovers from upstream technological fields to downstream technological fields. I then use this measure to estimate the impact of technology spillovers using panel data on U.S. firms.I find that spillovers from firms innovating in upstream fields are quantitatively as important as spillovers from firms innovating in same fields. Consistent with the idea that firms innovate more when there is more past upstream innovation to build on, firms' R&D investments respond positively to R&D investments of firms in upstream fields, but not to R&D investments of firms in downstream fields or in the same fields. Smaller firms on average operate in more upstream technological fields and generate more spillovers and higher social returns, which is contrary to the findings of previous research. JEL Codes: G34, J30, D22
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Economics, 2019Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Economics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology