Forthcoming in the Journal of Banking and Finance: “Bank Misconduct and Online Lending”

“Bank Misconduct and Online Lending” with Isaiah Hull, Yingjie Qi and Xin Zhang, Journal of Banking and Finance (forthcoming)

  • Abstract: We introduce a high quality proxy for bank misconduct that is constructed from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaint data. We employ this proxy to measure the impact of bank misconduct on the expansion of online lending in the United States. Using nearly complete loan and application data from the online lending market, we demonstrate that bank misconduct is associated with a statistically and economically significant increase in online lending demand at the state and county levels. This result is robust to the inclusion of bank credit supply shocks and holds for both broader and more narrowly-defined bank misconduct measures. Furthermore, we show that this effect is strongest for lower rated borrowers and weakest in states with high levels of generalized trust. (A13, G00, G21, K00)
The figure shows the estimated difference in the P2P’s share of total debt between treated and control counties. The horizontal axis shows the number of months that have elapsed since a major banking scandal occurred in the treatment counties. The vertical axis shows the difference in the P2P’s share of total debt. We identify the date of bank scandals through the use of newspaper articles drawn from Factiva and CFPB enforcement actions. These events are also associated with sharp increases in the number of reported CFPB complaints.
  • Keywords: financial development, consumer loans, bank misconduct, FinTech.

New Riksbank Working Paper version of “A wake-up call theory of contagion”

“A wake-up call theory or contagion” with Toni Ahnert (This version: 03/2020; First version: 06/2012)

  • Abstract: We offer a theory of contagion based on the information choice of investors after observing a financial crisis elsewhere. We study global coordination games of regime change in two regions with an unobserved common macro shock as the only link between regions. A crisis in the first region is a wake-up call to investors in the second region. It induces them to reassess the regional fundamental and acquire information about the macro shock. Contagion can occur even after investors learn that regions are unrelated (zero macro shock). Our results rationalize empirical evidence about contagious bank runs and currency crises after wake-up calls. We also derive other testable implications of the model. (D83, F3, G01, G21)
The value of information v and the proportion of informed investors n2 with and without a wake-up call, f ∈ {1, 0}. The figure shows (1) the strategic complementarity in information choices and (2) the effect of a higher level of s that increases the skewness of the macro shock and leads to an expansion of the intermediate range of information costs for which we establish the wake-up call contagion effect.

Forthcoming in the Journal of International Money and Finance: “Spread the Word: International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication”

“Spread the Word: International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication” with Hanna Armelius, Isaiah Hull and Xin Zhang, Journal of International Money and Finance, Volume 103, Pages 1-32, May 2020. – Lead article –

    • Abstract: We construct a novel text dataset to measure the sentiment component of communications for 23 central banks over the 2002-2017 period. Our analysis yields three results. First, comovement in sentiment across central banks is not reducible to trade or financial flow exposures. Second, sentiment shocks generate cross-country spillovers in sentiment, policy rates, and macroeconomic variables; and the Fed appears to be a uniquely influential generator of such spillovers, even among prominent central banks. And third, geographic distance is a robust and economically significant determinant of comovement in central bank sentiment, while shared language and colonial ties have weaker predictive power. (JEL E52, E58, F42)

The figure show the normalized rolling net sentiment scores associated with ECB speeches. Sentiment scores are computed using a dictionary-based approach documented in Loughran and McDonald (2011).

New version of “Spread the Word: International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication”

“Spread the Word: International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication” with Hanna Armelius, Isaiah Hull and Xin Zhang (all at Sveriges Riksbank)
(This version: 05/2019; First version: 09/2018; Sveriges Riksbank Working Paper No. 357)

  • Abstract:

We construct a novel text dataset to measure the sentiment component of communications for 23 central banks over the 2002-2017 period. Our analysis yields three results. First, comovement in sentiment across central banks is not reducible to trade or financial flow exposures. Second, sentiment shocks generate cross-country spillovers in sentiment, policy rates, and macroeconomic variables; and the Fed appears to be a uniquely influential generator of such spillovers, even among prominent central banks. And third, geographic distance is a robust and economically significant determinant of comovement in central bank sentiment, while shared language and colonial ties have weaker predictive power. (JEL E52, E58, F42)

  • Keywords: communication, monetary policy, international policy transmission.

New working paper on “International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication”

“Spread the Word: International Spillovers from Central Bank Communication” with Hanna Armelius, Isaiah Hull and Xin Zhang (all at Sveriges Riksbank)
(This version: 09/2018; First version: 09/2018; Sveriges Riksbank Working Paper No. 357)

  • Abstract:

We use text analysis and a novel dataset to measure the sentiment component of central bank communications in 23 countries over the 2002-2017 period. Our analysis yields three key results. First, using directed networks, we show that comovement in sentiment across central banks is not reducible to trade or financial flow exposure. Second, we find that geographic distance is a robust and economically significant determinant of comovement in central bank sentiment, while shared language and colonial ties are economically significant, but less robust. Third, we use structural VARs to show that sentiment shocks generate cross-country spillovers in sentiment, policy rates, and macroeconomic variables. We also find that the Fed plays a uniquely influential role in generating such sentiment spillovers, while the ECB is primarily influenced by other central banks. Overall, our results suggest that central bank communication contains systematic biases that could lead to suboptimal policy outcomes. (JEL E52, E58, F42)

  • Keywords: communication, monetary policy, international policy transmission.

New version of “Bank Misconduct, Trust, and Online Lending”

“Bank Misconduct, Trust, and Online Lending” with Isaiah Hull (Sveriges Riksbank), Yingjie Qi (Stockholm School of Economics) and Xin Zhang (Sveriges Riksbank)

  • Abstract:

We study the impact of trust on the expansion of online lending in the U.S. over the 2008-2016 period. Using nearly complete loan and application data from the online lending market, we demonstrate that a misconduct-driven decline of trust in traditional banking is associated with a statistically and economically significant increase in online lending demand at the state and county levels. Furthermore, we show that this e↵ect is strongest for low rated borrowers and weakest in states with high levels of generalized trust. We also examine generalized trust in isolation and show that it strengthens in-person, bank-based borrowing, reducing the demand for impersonal online lending. Finally, we use a shock that affects only investors to demonstrate that distrust in traditional finance increases participation in online lending.

  • Keywords: financial development, consumer loans, bank misconduct, FinTech.

Revised version of “Fire Sale Bank Recapitalizations”

“Optimal Bank Capitalization in Crowded Markets” with Mike Mariathasan (KU Leuven)
(This version: 08/2017; First version: 09/2015; Sveriges Riksbank Working Paper No. 312)

  • Abstract:

We study banks’ optimal equity buffer in general equilibrium, as well as their ex-post response to under-capitalization. Developing a “pecking order theory” for private recapitalizations, our benchmark model identifies equity issuance as individually and socially optimal, compared to deleveraging, and conditions that invert the individually optimal ranking. Ex-ante, the imperfectly elastic supply of capital, incomplete insurance markets and costly bankruptcies give rise to inefficiently high capital shortfalls and excessive insolvencies. Abstracting from moral hazard and informational asymmetries, we therefore provide a novel rationale for macroprudential capital regulation emerges and a new set of testable implications about banks’ capital structure management.

  • Keywords: bank capital, macroprudential regulation, incomplete markets, financial market segmentation, constrained inefficiency.

New working paper on “The Role of Trust in Online Lending”

“The Role of Trust in Online Lending” with Isaiah Hull (Sveriges Riksbank), Yingjie Qi (Stockholm School of Economics) and Xin Zhang (Sveriges Riksbank)

  • Abstract:

We study the impact of trust on the expansion of online lending in the U.S. over the 2008-2016 period. Using data from the largest platform, we demonstrate that a misconduct-driven decline of trust in traditional banking is associated with a statistically and economically significant increase in online lending at the state level. To the contrary, increased social trust strengthens in-person, bank-based borrowing and informal borrowing, reducing the demand for impersonal online lending. Both of these effects operate primarily through borrowers. We also use a shock that affects only investors to demonstrate that distrust in traditional finance increases participation in online lending.

  • Keywords: financial development, consumer loans, bank misconduct, FinTech.

Revised version of a “A Wake-up Call Theory of Contagion”

“A wake-up call theory or contagion” with Toni Ahnert (Bank of Canada)
(This version: 05/2017; First version: 06/2012)

  • Abstract:

We offer a theory of contagion based on the information choice of investors after observing a financial crisis elsewhere. We study global coordination games of regime change in two regions with an unobserved common macro shock as the only link between regions. A crisis in the first region is a wake-up call to investors in the second region. It induces them to reassess the regional fundamental and acquire information about the macro shock. Contagion can even occur after investors learn that regions are unrelated (zero macro shock). Our results rationalize empirical evidence about contagious bank runs and currency crises after wake-up calls. We also derive new implications and discuss how these can be tested. (JEL D82, F3, G01)

  • Keywords: wake-up call, information choice, financial crises, contagion, global games, regime change, fundamental re-assessment.

Revised version of Sveriges Riksbank Working Paper Series No. 319

“Monetary Normalizations and Consumer Credit: Evidence from Fed Liftoff and Online Lending” with Isaiah Hull (Sveriges Riksbank) and Xin Zhang (Sveriges Riksbank)
(This version: 05/2017; First version: 03/2016; Sveriges Riksbank Working Paper No. 319)

  • Abstract:

On December 16th of 2015, the Fed initiated “liftoff,” a critical step in the monetary normalization process. We use a unique panel dataset of 640,000 loan-hour observations to measure the impact of liftoff on interest rates, demand, and supply in the online primary market for uncollateralized consumer credit. We find that credit supply increased, reducing the spread by 16% and lowering the average interest rate by 16.9-22.6 basis points. Our findings are consistent with an investor-perceived reduction in default probabilities; and suggest that liftoff provided a strong, positive signal about the future solvency of borrowers.

  • Keywords: monetary normalization, monetary policy signaling, consumer loans, credit risk.