I am an Assistant Professor of Finance at the Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins. Prior to this, I was at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. I also serve as an Associate Editor at the Review of Finance.
My main research interests lie in socially responsible investing, digital currencies, housing markets and financial fragility. I received my PhD from the Wharton School and have a master's degree in financial economics from Oxford University.
Published and Accepted Papers
Too Much Skin-in-the-Game? The Effect of Mortgage Market Concentration on Credit and House Prices, The Review of Financial Studies, 2022
In 2007, as American housing markets started to decline, the government-sponsored enterprises dramatically increased their acquisitions of low FICO and high loan-to-value mortgages. By 2008, the agencies had reversed course by decreasing their high-risk acquisitions. I develop a theory in which large lenders temporarily increase high-risk activity at the end of a boom. In the model, lenders with many outstanding mortgages have incentives to extend risky credit to prop up house prices. The increase in house prices lessens the losses they make on their outstanding portfolio of mortgages. As the bust continues, lenders slowly wind down their mortgage exposure.
De-crypto-ing Signals in Initial Coin Offerings: Evidence of Rational Token Retention (with Tetiana Davydiuk and Sam Rosen), Management Science , 2023
Using the market for initial coin offerings (ICOs) as a laboratory, we provide evidence that entrepreneurs use retention as a method to alleviate information asymmetry. ICO investors face a high degree of uncertainty because of the unregulated and opaque nature of the ICO market. Using a detailed dataset on 5,644 ICOs, we show that ICOs that retain a larger fraction of their tokens are more successful in their funding efforts and are more likely to develop a working product or platform. Specifically, we estimate that a 1 p.p. increase in token retention leads to a 0.1-0.3 p.p. increase in fundraising success. Moreover, we find that retention is a stronger signal when markets are crowded and investors do not have as much time to conduct due diligence.
Utility Tokens as a Commitment to Competition (with Itay Goldstein and Ruslan Sverchkov), Forthcoming, Journal of Finance
We show that utility tokens can limit the rent-seeking activities of two-sided platforms with market power while preserving efficiency gains due to network effects. We model platforms where buyers and sellers can meet to exchange services. Tokens serve as the sole medium of exchange on the platform and can be traded in a secondary market. Tokenizing a platform commits a firm to give up monopolistic rents associated with the control of the platform leading to long-run competitive prices. We show how the threat of entrants can incentivize developers to tokenize and discuss cases where regulation is needed to enforce tokenization.
The Pace of Change: Socially Responsible Investing in Private Markets (with Alexandr Kopytov and Jan Starmans), Revise and Resubmit, Review of Financial Studies
We study the pace at which socially responsible investors can induce firms to reduce negative externalities in private capital markets. Investors with broad preferences, who care about firm externalities independent of their ownership in the firm, value acquiring firms with high production externalities since they can reform these firms. The anticipation of trading gains for firms with high externalities decreases the incentive of current firm owners to reduce externalities, causing a potential delay in reform. Investment mandates through which investors can commit to paying a premium for firms with low production externalities can incentivize reform in a timely manner.
Timing Matters: Dynamic Green Transition and Green Disclosure (with Jan Starmans)
This paper studies the optimal design of green disclosure requirements to support firms' transition to greener technologies. In a dynamic model with socially responsible investors, we model green transition as a multi-step process. Our analysis establishes an important link between the design of green disclosure requirements and the underlying characteristics of the technologies driving the green transition. We show that government-mandated "greenwashing" which entails deliberately obscuring firms' actual greenness, can create mis-valuation subsidies that help overcome early transition bottlenecks. Dynamic green disclosure requirements that become more stringent over time can further incentivize transition. Stricter requirements in the future can enhance the effectiveness of lax requirements in early periods and vice versa. Our results can be applied to recent initiatives to establish mandatory green disclosure requirements.
Concentration in Mortgage Markets: GSE Exposure and Risk-Taking in Uncertain Times (with Ronel Elul and David Musto)
When home prices threaten to decline, lenders bearing more of a community’s mortgage risk have an incentive to combat this decline with new lending that boosts demand. We test whether this incentive drove the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to guarantee riskier mortgages in early 2007, as the chance of substantial declines grew from small to significant. To identify the effect we relate new risky lending to regional variation in the GSEs’ exposure and the interaction of this variation with home-price elasticity. We focus on the GSEs’ discretion across potential purchases by reference to the credit-score threshold that triggers manual underwriting. We conclude that this incentive helps explain the GSEs’ expansion of risky lending shortly before the financial crisis.
Housing Prices and Real Investment: Collateral vs. Crowding-Out Effects (with Itay Goldstein)
There is active debate about whether high real estate prices benefit or hurt investment. In this paper, we propose a theoretical framework to evaluate policies that target real estate prices and investment. Our model incorporates two documented empirical effects that real estate prices can have on investment --- a collateral channel and a crowding-out channel. Optimal policy depends on the relative magnitude of these two effects and requires opposing interventions in demand and supply, i.e. subsidizing one while taxing the other. The distribution of collateral, rather than its aggregate level, determines the net effect of real estate prices on surplus.
A Theory of Syndicated Loans (with Jan Starmans)
We develop a theory that rationalizes syndicated loans with (1) a relationship lender who lends to the firm repeatedly over time and monitors the firm, (2) transactional lenders who lend to the firm infrequently and do not monitor, and (3) frequent loan renegotiations. Transactional lenders are biased towards liquidation, whereas relationship lenders are biased towards continuation. By borrowing simultaneously from both types of lenders, the firm generates disagreement between them. This disagreement induces costly renegotiation upon default, which can increase monitoring incentives and thereby reduce the firm’s cost of credit.
Income Inequality, Debt Burden and COVID-19 (with Tetiana Davydiuk)
There have been stark differences in the ability of low-income and high-income individuals to protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. We show that debt burdens contribute to this inequity by disproportionately increasing the cost to low-income individuals of reducing mobility during pandemics. Using a triple difference specification, we document that low-income individuals with high debt burdens are 6% more mobile than less constrained high-income individuals after the spread of coronavirus in the United States. Furthermore, this effect is exacerbated for African-American borrowers. Additionally, we provide suggestive evidence that this debt burden channel could have contributed to 2.16% more COVID-19 cases.