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Category Archives: G2

Heterogeneity in Mortgage Refinancing

By Julia Wu

Abstract
Many households who would benefit from and are eligible to refinance their mortgages fail to do so. A recent literature has demonstrated a significant degree of heterogeneity in the propensity to refinance across various dimensions, yet much heterogeneity is left unexplained. In this paper, I use a clustering regression to characterize heterogeneity in mortgage refinancing by estimating the distribution of propensities to refinance. A key novelty to my approach is that I do so without relying on borrower characteristics, allowing me to recover the full degree of heterogeneity, rather than simply the extent to which the propensity to refinance varies with a given observable. I then explore the role of both observed and unobserved heterogeneity in group placement by regressing group estimates on a set of demographic characteristics. As a complement to my analysis, I provide evidence from a novel dataset of detailed information on borrower perspectives on mortgage refinancing to paint a more nuanced picture of how household characteristics and behavioral mechanisms play into the decision to refinance. I find a significant degree of heterogeneity in both the average and marginal propensity to refinance across households. While observables such as education, race and income do significantly correlate with group heterogeneity, it is clear that much heterogeneity may still be attributed to the presence of unobservable characteristics.

David Berger, Faculty Advisor
Michelle Connolly, Faculty Advisor

JEL codes: D9, E52, G21

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Withdrawal: The Difficulty of Transitioning to a Cashless Economy

By Praneeth Kandula

Abstract
In 2021, modern payment methods such as mobile pay have increased nearly fivefold since their introduction in 2015. This shift to an increasingly cashless, digital economy has been marked by inequitable financial and technological divides. Historically, Black and Latino adults have had less access to financial systems and are less likely to own traditional computers and home broadband. Without rectifying these issues, a cashless, digital economy only serves to widen divides. Using data from the Diary of Consumer Payment, this study descriptively examines the use of cash and alternative payment methods by different racial and ethnic groups from 2015 through 2020. I also extend this effort to address the effects of COVID-19. I find that racial differences not only exist but also the gap between Black and Latino adults and White adults grows between 2015 and 2019. Still, this paper finds that in 2020 the likelihood to employ cash for a transaction falls for Black adults but not for Latino adults. COVID-19 has been a critical driver of change, forcing both consumers and corporations to shift to a more digital-centric economy. While there have been positive shifts for Black adults, policy ensuring that all racial groups have access to the necessary financial and digital networks will be critical in establishing an equitable economy moving forward.

Professor Lisa A. Gennetian, Faculty Advisor
Professor Michelle P. Connolly, Faculty Advisor

JEL Classification: D1 D31 G20 I24 J11

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Financial Inclusion and Women’s Economic Empowerment in India

By Nehal Jain

Abstract
On August 14th, 2014 India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi implemented the largest ever
financial inclusion scheme to date known as Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). The
program aimed to bank all of India’s unbanked population. Prior to the program, India had one of
the highest rates of unbanked citizens. The program also included measures that prioritized women’s
access to these financial institutions given the gender gap in financial inclusivity. This paper aims
both to understand the effectiveness of PMJDY on granting women equal access as men to financial
institutions and whether financial inclusion results in increased economic empowerment, I find that
PMJDY was successful in increasing access to bank accounts and separately, that access to bank
accounts economically empowers women.

Pengpeng Xiao, Faculty Advisor
Michelle Connolly, Faculty Advisor

JEL classification: J1; G28; I31

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The Elusive “Stock-Picker’s Market”: Dispersion and Mutual Fund Performance

By Jacob Epstein  

This paper explores the relationship between active mutual fund performance and market dispersion from January 1990 to December 2018. I find a significant positive relationship between dispersion and 4-factor alpha overall, providing some evidence of managerial skill. There are large differences in this relationship by decade and fund selectivity. The results suggest active mutual funds were able to take advantage of stock-picking opportunities during the 1990s and 2000s, particularly the most active subset of funds. However, I find a significant negative relationship between dispersion and alpha for funds in the 2010s, indicating this relationship has changed over time. I discuss several possible explanations for this reversal, which could present interesting avenues for further research.

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Advisors: Professor Emma Rasiel | JEL Codes: G1, G12, G23

Private Equity Buyouts and Strategic Acquisitions: An Analysis of Capital Investment and the Timing of Takeovers in the United States

By Anthony Melita   

This paper investigates how motivational differences between agents who execute private equity buyouts and those who execute strategic (corporate) acquisitions may influence the timing of capital investment via takeovers. This paper synthesizes prominent merger theories to inform macroeconomic variables that may drive acquisitions. I find a significant negative expected effect of volatility on capital investment via takeover for each buyer type, a negative expected effect from valuation multiples on capital investment from PE buyouts, and a positive expected effect from debt capacity (EBITDA-CAPEX) on capital investment from PE buyouts.

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Advisors: Professor Grace Kim | JEL Codes: G3, G34, G29

An Unequal Dream: The Mortgage Rate Premium Paid by Black Communities

By Michael Nicholson   

This paper analyzes loan pricing discrimination against predominantly black communities in U.S. mortgage markets. Building on previous literature, this paper posits that ceteris paribus predominantly black communities continue to face economically significant discrimination in mortgage pricing. Ultimately, this paper concludes that predominantly black communities face 10-14 basis points of pricing discrimination in mortgage loans which corresponds to 12.6-17.6% higher rate spreads. This estimation comes after accounting for geographic and lender effects, borrower quality, tract-level characteristics, and loan type. These results confirm past findings of pricing discrimination and illustrate yet another financial barrier for black households in this country.

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Advisors: Professor Emma Rasiel, Professor Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: R2, J15, G21

Investigating the Costs of Religious Observance: Cross-Country Analysis of Islamic Banking

By Myla Swallow and Richard Vargo

This study regresses key variables that influence the profitability of Conventional and Islamic banks as measured by Return on Average Assets, to determine the impact of Islamicity on the profitability of the banks in a given country. The study compares 36564 banks in 77 countries belonging to both Islamic and non-Islamic countries. We  find that Islamic banks have higher operating costs and overall experience lower return on average assets.

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Advisors: Professor Kent Kimbrough, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: F30; G21; Z12

Social Capital and Financial Development after Economic Shocks: Evidence from Italy after the Financial Crisis of 2007-2009

By Sujay Rao & Ethan Lampert

Like traditional forms of capital, social capital – an intangible measure of an individual’s social networks, trust in institutions, and participation in civic life – has implications for personal and financial behavior. Individuals from educated, well established backgrounds with fruitful family ties may be more amenable to opening new lines of credit or investing in stock markets due to their trust in and connectedness with society. But what happens after a major economic shock, such as the financial crisis of 2008? Using Italy as a case study and panel data from the Survey of Household Income and Wealth, we find that social capital has significant effects on an individual’s credit card usage, informal borrowing, and choice to invest in securities.

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Advisors: Professor Grace Kim, Professor Michelle Connolly, Professor Giovanni Zanalda | JEL Codes: G01, G2, O1, D1, D14

Is Smart Money Smart? The Costs of Hedge Funds Trading Market Anomalies

By Matthew J. Farrell

Do hedge funds earn statistically significant premia on common factor trading strategies after trading costs are accounted for? Furthermore, what is the gap between what a hedge fund would earn and the paper portfolios that they hold? I answer this question by using the latest cutting-edge methodology to estimate trading costs for major financial market anomalies. This methodology uses the familiar asset-pricing Fama-MacBeth procedure to compare the on-paper compensation to factor exposures with those earned by hedge funds. I find that the typical hedge fund does not earn profits to value or momentum, and and low returns to size.

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Advisor: Professor Brian Weller | JEL Codes: G12; G14; G23;

Modeling Variation in U.S. Bank Holding Companies’ Net Interest Margins

By Daniel Dorchuck

This study explores variation in US bank holding companies’ (BHCs) net inter-est margins (NIMs) and the effects of interest rate risk exposure on NIMs. Interest rate risk (IRR) is intrinsic in maturity transformation and financial intermediation as banks take on short-term liabilities in the form of deposits and create assets in the form of loans with longer maturities and different repricing profiles. Accordingly, interest rate risk is necessary for bank holding companies (BHCs) to be profitable in financial intermediation, and net interest margins are chosen as a variable of inter-est because they are an isolated measure of bank’ profitability from interest earning assets. Naturally, BHCs employ maturity pairing and derivative hedging to mitigate IRR and ultimately increase and smooth earnings. Synthesizing banks’ balance sheet and income statement data, macroeconomic variables, credit conditions, and interest rate environment variables, this study hopes to expand on existing work by provid-ing insight on the determinants of NIMs as well as interest rate derivatives’ efficacy in increasing and stabilizing net interest margins. The models presented establish links between long term rate exposure, risk-averse capital positions, and increased margins. Additionally, the models suggest that banks earn smaller spreads (NIMs) in higher interest rate environments but benefit from steeper yield curves.

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Advisor: Mary Beth Fisher, Kent Kimbrough |  JEL Codes: E44, G20, G21 | Tagged: Depository Institutions, Interest Rate Derivatives, Interest Rate Risk, Net Interest Margins, US Commercial Banking 

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