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Taxing Marijuana and the Road to Reparations:  Comparing the Colorado and Illinois Cannabis Markets

By Tommaso Carlo Filippo Babucci  

Although still prohibited at the federal level, cannabis can now be found on the shelves of recreational dispensaries across thirty-three U.S states. This thesis examines the development of this legal market from both historical and empirical perspectives.  Using a new data set, it estimates the determinants of cannabis sales and tax revenues in the Colorado market and analyzes the incidence of a single tax increase. The results, which suggest that legal cannabis behaves like a luxury good, are used to analyze the potential for cannabis-funded reparations programs in Illinois, which recently approved recreational sales of cannabis.

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Advisors: Professor Connel Fullenkamp | JEL Codes: H2, R50, L15

Comparing the Performance of Active and Passive Mutual Funds in Developing and Developed Countries

By Nalini Gupta  

This paper seeks to test the hypothesis that developing countries or informationally inefficient countries should see higher returns for active mutual funds on average than passive funds and the trend should be reversed in developed nations or informationally efficient economies. This analysis is done using a cross section of eight countries, four developed and four developing. Using a fund universe of 20 active and 20 passive funds per country and controls such as volatility, market return, financial market development and Human Development Index among others, we see that there is no clear systematically dominant strategy between active and passive investment universally. While developing countries are associated with lower returns, we do not find a significant difference between active and passive based on development classification. A key finding is that an increase in liquidity, acting as proxy for informational efficiency, leads to a co-movement of active and passive returns in each country. The paper also lends itself to further analysis regarding confounding factor such as noise trading and movement of foreign capital which impact the effect of increased liquidity on mutual fund returns.

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Advisors: Professor Connel Fullenkamp, Professor Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: G1, G11, G14

Where Did the Money Go? Impact of the ECB’s Corporate Sector Purchase Program on Eurozone Corporate Spending

By Tina Tian   

Slow corporate growth and a lack of corporate investment has plagued European markets for the past decade. As a response, the ECB began the Corporate Sector Purchase Program (CSPP) in 2016 to provide liquidity to corporate debt markets through bond purchases. Four years after the start of the program, this paper assesses its impact by looking at how companies spent this money on a micro level. In particular, it looks at the impact of long-term debt on five expenditures (fixed assets and R&D, cash balances, short-term debt, cash to shareholders, and share buybacks). We test these hypothesized expenditures based on financial statement panel data from a selection of European firms whose bonds were purchased by the ECB. The results show an increase in financial expenditures including cash balances and short-term debt and a decrease in productive investment expenditures such as fixed assets and R&D. This indicates a lack of efficacy of the corporate bond purchase program as excess liquidity provided by the ECB went towards eurozone companies refinancing existing debt rather than investing in growth ventures.

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Advisors: Professor Connel Fullenkamp, Professor Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: G3, O16, E58

Wrangling the Herd: A Cross-Cultural and Cross-Industry Approach to Herding Market Behavior

By Tyler Fenton and Jarred Kotzin

The traditional efficient market hypothesis serves as the foundation of modern economic theory, governing the investigation of financial markets. While this premise assumes all investors are rational and all information is immediately incorporated into markets, this paper explores herding behavior – a central tenet of behavioral finance that explains the apparent inefficiencies of financial markets. Utilizing return data from the past 10 years from eight exchanges around the world, segmented into 10 industry classes as well as a broad market index, we compare levels of herd behavior using return dispersion proxies. We find significant evidence of herding in nearly all exchanges and all industries included in the study and the degree of this herd behavior varies across industries in different countries. Overall, we find support for the behavioral finance principle of herding and conclude that certain cultural or non cultural factors affect this activity differently in various countries and industries.

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Advisors: Professor Connel Fullenkamp | JEL Codes: G4, G14, G15

Determinants of Franchise Value in the National Basketball Association

By Matthew Van Liedekerke

Franchise values in the National Basketball Association (NBA) have more than tripled over the last five years, with the average franchise worth $1.36 billion. Using panel data on NBA franchises between 2009 and 2016, this paper finds that market, performance, star players, and brand are significant determinants of franchise value at the team level and the NBA’s television contract is the primary driver of league-wide franchise value appreciation. The valuation methodologies used in this paper predict that a franchise in Seattle would be worth $1.4 billion in 2017, which could inform the NBA’s decision on expansion.

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Advisor: Connel Fullenkamp | JEL Codes: Z2, Z23, G32

An Economic Approach to Evaluating the Impact of AML/CFT Regulations

By Caitlin Mcgough

This paper addresses the unintended consequences of AML/CFT regulations, seeking to provide an economic analysis of the drivers of derisking and the broader consequences for the goal of financial integrity. Looking at qualitative data, this paper (1) concludes the problem of derisking warrants a reconsideration of the enforcement approach and (2) recommends reorienting the banks’ payoff matrix by reducing the cost of compliance and regulatory risk associated with providing financial services to highrisk, lowprofit customers. This paper culminates with the recommendation to consider tolerating “honest mistakes” on the part of financial institutions in order to achieve the goals of integrity and inclusion in the international financial system.

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Advisor: Connel Fullenkamp | Tagged: De-Risking, Financial Inclusion, Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing

Where Did The Liquidity Go? The Cost of Financial Regulation to Foreign Exchange Markets

By James Stevenson

In financial markets, the terms “bull” and “bear” markets are used to describe the cyclicality of asset prices. Similar to asset price cycles, there are cycles in regulatory scrutiny. Beginning in the 1980’s, regulatory scrutiny diminished, cumulating in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, allowing commercial banks and securities firms to be housed under the same roof for the first time since the 1930’s. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, the tides have reversed on financial regulation. With the Dodd-Frank reforms in the United States, and similar regulation being signed into law around the world, it is unknown how new regulation will affect financial markets. Legislators wrote the new rules in hopes that they would create safer financial institutions, but at what cost?

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Advisor: Connel Fullenkamp | JEL Codes: G1, G12, G18 | Tagged: Dodd-Frank, Financial Regulation, Foreign Exchange, Market Liquidity, Volcker Rule

Corporate Financial Distress and Bankruptcy Prediction in North American Construction Industry

By Gang Li

This paper seeks to explore the application of Altman’s bankruptcy prediction model in the construction industry by measuring its percentage accuracy on a dataset consisting of 108 bankrupt & non-bankrupt firms selected across the timeline of 1985-2013. Another main goal this paper is to explore the predictive power of an expanded variable set tailored to the construction industry and compare the results. Specifically, this measuring process is done using machine learning algorithm based on scikit-learn library that transforms a raw .csv file into clean vectorized dataset. The algorithm provides various classifiers to cross-validate the training set, which produces mixed statistics that favors neither variable set but provides insight into the reliability of the non-linear classifiers.

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Data Set

Advisor: Connel Fullenkamp | JEL Codes: C38, C5, G33, G34 | Tagged: Bankruptcy, Corporate, Discriminant Analysis, Distress, Machine Learning

The Effects of Digital Media on Advertising Markets

By Bradford Lightcap

This paper examines the viability of sustained advertising spending in an increasingly digital age. Beginning with print media and through the advent of television, the ad market has seen vast evolution in information consumption. The result has been a creative adaptability by advertisers to keep pace with said change. However, growth in ad spending has not significantly outpaced GDP growth, as documented in the Relative Constancy Hypothesis. RCH asserts that both ad spending and consumer expenditure as a percent of GDP remain steady over time. This paper focuses on whether the advertising claim holds up through the rise of the Internet. How this powerful medium may alter traditional advertising trends remains unclear. The answer could have implications for both advertisers and parties that rely on them

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Advisor: Connel Fullenkamp | JEL Codes: L82, M3, M37, O39 | Tagged: Digital Media, Relative Constancy Hypothesis

Questions?

Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker
dus_asst@econ.duke.edu

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly
michelle.connolly@duke.edu