Tracing Out Capital Flows: How Financially Integrated Banks Respond to Natural Disasters (with Philip E. Strahan)

Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming.  

Multi-market banks reallocate capital when local credit demand increases after natural disasters.  Following such events, credit in unaffected but connected markets declines by about 50 cents per dollar of additional lending in shocked areas, but most of the decline comes from loans in areas where banks do not own branches.  Moreover, banks increase sales of more-liquid loans in order to lessen the impact of the demand shock on credit supply.  Larger, multi-market banks appear better able than smaller ones to shield credit supplied to their core markets (those with branches) by aggressively cutting back lending outside those markets.

Download Paper

Clouded Judgment: The Role of Sentiment in Credit Origination (with Ran Duchin and Denis Sosyura)

Journal of Financial Economics, vol. 121, no. 2 (August 2016): 392–413.  

Using daily fluctuations in local sunshine as an instrument for sentiment, we study its effect on day-to-day decisions of lower-level financial officers. Positive sentiment is associated with higher credit approvals, and negative sentiment has the opposite effect of a larger magnitude. These effects are stronger when financial decisions require more discretion, when reviews are less automated, and when capital constraints are less binding. The variation in approval rates affects ex-post financial performance and produces significant real effects. Our analysis of the economic channels suggests that sentiment influences managers' risk tolerance and subjective judgment.

Download Paper 

Bridging the Gap? Government Subsidized Lending and Access to Capital (with Josh Lerner)

Review of Corporate Finance Studies, vol. 2, no. 1 (March 2013): 98–128.  

The consequences of providing public funds to financial institutions remain controversial. We examine the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund’s impact on credit union activity, using hitherto little studied U.S. Treasury data. The CDFI Fund grants increase lending at credit unions by 3%. For every dollar awarded, 45 additional cents are loaned out to borrowers in the first year, and up to an additional $1.60 is loaned out within three years. Delinquent loan rates also increase slightly. Our panel results are supported by a broadband regression discontinuity analysis. Politics does not seem to play a role in allocating funding. 

Download Paper     Download Online Appendix

Working Papers

Did Local Lenders Forecast the Bust? Evidence from the Real Estate Market 

This paper shows that mortgage lenders with a physical presence near the property being financed have better information about home-price fundamentals than non-local lenders. Within the same lender, loan origination and retention decrease when the lender has a branch in an area with high home price appreciation. From 2002-06, home price growth negatively correlates with the share of loans made by local lenders. Home prices fell less from 2006-09 in areas where local lenders made more loans. California foreclosure rates during the crisis are negatively correlated with local lending pre-crisis. A standard deviation increase in local loans is associated with 5 fewer foreclosures for every one thousand homes. The results for both prices and foreclosures are even stronger when lenders retain the loans. 

Download Paper     Download Paper with Online Appendix

Rebuilding After Disaster Strikes: How Local Lenders Aid in the Recovery 

I document the benefits of access to local finance for new and small firms using detailed employment data on firm age and size. I use natural disasters and regulatory guidance to disentangle the effects of credit supply and demand. I find that an additional standard deviation of local finance offsets the negative effects of the disaster and can lead to 1 to 2% higher employment growth.  I show that local lenders increase lending but are not borrowing against future lending.  The findings suggest that local lenders play an important and necessary role in job creation in the economy. 

Download Paper  

The Unintended Consequences of Employer Credit Check Bans on Labor and Credit Markets

Lenders have traditionally used credit reports to measure a borrower’s riskiness, but credit agencies also market reports to employers for use in hiring. Since the onset of the Great Recession, eleven state legislatures have restricted the use of credit reports in the labor market. We document that county-level unemployment rose faster in states that restricted employer credit checks. Furthermore, counties with high sub-prime populations experienced larger increases in the unemployment rate than average. Underlying the increase in unemployment rates post-restriction is a higher separation rate in those states, which we interpret as evidence that employer credit checks are an ex-ante screening device that improves the matching process. We provide further evidence of deteriorating credit market outcomes. Using a credit panel, we find that credit inquiries and delinquencies increase significantly after the state-level policy changes.