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Category Archives: 2016

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 

Evaluating Stock and Bond Portfolio Allocations using CAPER and Tobin’s Q

By Jayanth Ganesan

I test whether an investor can increase the returns on their portfolio over the long-term by timing the market using measures of market value, such as the Tobin’s q ratio and the Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings (CAPE or Shiller-CAPE). To test this proposition, I examine contrarian investor strategies proposed by Smithers and Wright (2000) and investor strategies based on different equity-fixed income combination portfolios. I seek to determine whether these strategies produce higher risk-adjusted returns than buy-and-hold equity strategies such as those proposed by Siegel (2014) for long-term portfolios. I also examine whether Siegel’s theory that stocks are better investment vehicles than bonds for investment horizons greater than 20 years. In my study, buy-and-hold portfolios composed of the S&P 500 have additional annualized returns of 1.5% than portfolios which reallocate funds in alternative securities based on CAPE and q thresholds. I conclude that for long-term investment horizons, an investor is unlikely to increase portfolio returns by reallocating funds to an alternative asset class when stocks are overvalued. However, I do not find that stocks are better investment vehicles compared to bonds as portfolio with bonds have a lower portfolio risk in my sample. I believe that the effectiveness q ratios for market timing is likely to be independent of how the q ratio is calculated. As suggested by Asness (2015), I find that portfolios that utilize both value and trend investing principles with CAPE and q may outperform portfolios that utilize only value-based market timing strategies. I conclude that CAPE and q based timing strategies are difficult to implement without detailed knowledge of future stock valuations.

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Advisor: Edward Tower | JEL Codes: G11, G14 | Tagged: Information on Market Efficiency, Investment Decisions, Portfolio Choice

The Decision to Marry of Cohabit and Economic Crises

By Jennifer Garand

This paper aims to investigate the relationship between peoples decisions to marry or cohabit and their economic circumstances  both personal, as measured by their employment status, and peripheral, as measured by the unemployment rate in their local county. This paper will look at the role economic factors, as well as demographic and personal factors, play in the decision of whether or not to marry, cohabit, or stay single.

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Advisor: Marjorie McElroy, Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D1, J12, J16 | Tagged: Marriage, Unemployment, Demographics, Cohabitation

Effect of Slum Redevelopment on Child Health Outcomes: Evidence from Mumbai

By Suhani Jalota

As the population of urban poor living in slums increases, governments are trying to relocate people into governmentprovided free housing. Slum redevelopment affects every part of a household’s livelihood, but most importantly the health and wellbeing of younger generationsThis paper investigates the effect of slum redevelopment schemes on child stunting levels. Data was collected in fortyone buildings under the slumredevelopment program in Mumbai. The study demonstrates through a fixed effect regression analysis that an additional year of living in the building is associated with an increase in the heightforage Zscore by 0.124 standard deviations. Possible explanations include an improvement in the overall hygienic environment, sanitation conditions, indoor air pollution, and access to health and water facilities. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that water contamination, loss of livelihood and increased expenses could worsen health outcomes for residents. This study prompts more research on the health effects of slum redevelopment projects, which are becoming increasingly common in the rapidly urbanizing developing world. 

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Advisor: Erica Field, Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: O12, O14, O17, O18, O22 | Tagged: Urban infrastructure, Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development, Child health, Informal settlements, Project Analysis

Tying the Knot: Links Between the Labor and Marriage Markets

By Shafiq Haris, Alexander Prezioso, Michael Temple, Logan Turner, Kevin Zipf, Elizabeth Di Giulio, and Joseph Ueland

This paper analyzes the impact of exogenous shifts in the labor market on the marriage market. The relationship between these two markets is complicated by their reverse causality. That is to say, labor market decisions play into marriage market decisions, and vice versa. In order to mitigate this simultaneous determination, this paper adopts and furthers a methodology utilized by Autor, Dorn and Hansen (2015). Henceforth referred to as ADH, the authors analyze the effects of trade on local labor markets between 1980 and 2007. All 722 commuting zones in the continental United States were evaluated with respect to their level of exposure to increasing competition from Chinese imports, and the share of jobs within the commuting zone considered “routine,” and thus susceptible to computerization and/or mechanization. The authors analyze the impact of these independent variables on labor force participation. This paper takes Autor, et al’s analysis one step further by using the routinization and trade variables as instruments through which we can observe the exogenous impact of the labor market on marital status shares. This paper progresses through two specifications before ultimately utilizing a TwoStage Least Squares analysis with Autor et al’s instruments to isolate the impact of decadal changes in the labor market on decadal changes in male and female marital status shares. Analysis is performed on different age groups, as both the marriage and labor market are different for people of different ages. The first specification applies Autor, et. al’s righthand side with marital status shares as dependent variables. The second specification adds labor market ratios, which relate male and female labor market status. The previously mentioned final specification offers easily interpreted results and is the most encompassing model. Overall, we find that the labor market affects the marriage market much like the current literature would suggest. For example, as male employment increases, the share of females never married decreases and the share of females married increases. This relationship is consistent with existing marriage market theory. However, the results suggest that the literature does not hold in the oldest age group in the data, as power dynamics in the marriage market shift. Our methodology and findings are unique, as we explore this field through a new lens. Future research can expand upon this by incorporating a dataset with information regarding cohabitation habits and consistent longitudinal variable measurements for controls.

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Advisor: Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: J1, J12, J21 | Tagged: Employment, Marriage

Obesity and its Impact on Job Quality

By Kelly Lessard

This study explores the relationship between body mass and job quality in the United States labor force using five variables to represent job quality: hourly wage, training in the past year, desire for training, expectations for success, and job satisfaction. I use the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 data from 1994 to calculate BMI and assess the job quality indicators. Like past research, I find BMI is negatively associated with wages for the obese population, most significantly for women. Women also suffer a greater body mass penalty for job training and demonstrate lower job satisfaction at a higher BMI.

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Advisor: Alison Hagy, Tracy Falba |  JEL Codes: J7, J31, J71 | Tagged: BMI, Job Quality, Labor Productivity, Obesity

Increased Foreign Revenue Shares in the United States Film Industry: 2000 – 2014

By Victoria Lim

The American film industry, which has historically been driven by the domestic market, now receives an increasing proportion of its revenue from abroad (foreign share)To determine the factors influencing this trend, this paper analyzed data from 11 countries of 2,337 American films released during 2000  2014Both film and country attributes were analyzed to determine each attribute’s effect on foreign share, whether its effect size has changed over time and whether each attribute has changed in frequency amongst films released. The results identified six attributes, star actors, sequels, releases in top markets, release time lag, GDP growth and a match in languagethat contributed to the increase in foreign share over this period

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Advisor: James Roberts, Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: F40, L82, Z11 | Tagged: Foreign Share, International Box Office Revenue, Motion Picture Industry

Adam Smith and Sayyid Qutb: A comparison of two different worldviews

By Kehaan Manjee

The West and Militant Islam have been in conflict with each other because of their different worldviews. Adam Smith and Sayyid Qutb have arguably had tremendous influence on these worldviews i.e. capitalism and Islamic state. Both thinkers provided their prescriptions to improve the condition of their societies, and analyzing these prescriptions helps us understand the differences in these worldviews. I have compared and contrasted their socioeconomic theories, using these two thinkers as proxies for the West and Militant Islam. I have specifically analyzed their prescriptions on three issues: economic inequality, taxation and interest.  These key issues provide an insight into the views of the two scholars, and through that, the conflicting worldviews of the West and Militant Islam. On economic inequality, Smith believed that his economic system of natural liberty would lead to universal opulence; in contrast, Qutb argued that only an Islamic system of government could reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Both thinkers supported taxation: Smith wanted to use it to finance the provision of public goods, security and justice; while Qutb not only wanted to use it to finance government services, but also viewed taxation as a tool for redistribution of wealth in the society. Smith and Qutb disagreed on the issue of interest: Smith supported interestbearing lending, but argued for the imposition of a ceiling on interest rates; on the contrary, Qutb wanted an outright prohibition on all forms of interest on creditThese similarities and differences in their prescriptions on various issues provide insight inttheir vision for society. Since their vision and objectives are differentthey have competing worldviews, which explains the conflict between the West and Militant Islam. 

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Advisor: Neil De Marchi | JEL Codes: B10, B12, B15, B31, N00 | Tagged: Adam Smith, Capitalism, Different Worldviews, Islamic State, Sayyid Qutb

The Effect of Federal Regulations on the Outcomes of Auctions for Oil and Gas Leaseholds

By Artur Shikhaleev

This thesis attempts to analyze the impact of the differences in regulatory frameworks that govern state-owned and federally-owned lands on the outcomes of auctions for oil and natural gas leaseholds in the state of New Mexico. The analysis tries to isolate the effect of ownership by controlling for auction structure, leasehold characteristics, and prices of underlying resources. Given past research, the hypothesis is that stricter regulations carry a heavier cost to buyers, so the expectation is that federally-owned leaseholds, which are more regulated, are traded at a discount to state-owned leaseholds. However, the result of this thesis is contradictory to the hypothesis. The conclusion is that stricter regulations do not lead to a discounted auction price for an oil and gas leasehold.

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Advisor: James Roberts, Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: C12, C21, Q35, Q58 | Tagged: Auction, Education, environment, federal, natural gas, Oil, Regulation, State

Gender Equality as a Result of Offering Employee Benefit Policies

By Meghan Mcaneny

In this study, I investigate the relationship between the percentage of women in leadership in a company and its employee benefits. This papeuses data on individual firms’ benefits such as paid parental leave, familial support, and flexibility arrangements. Using OLS, I conclude that benefits that shift familial burdens from women to men, specifically paid paternity leave, result in more women in leadershipThis creates an even playing field for women to be promoted as the company environment does not penalize women for using benefits. I also find a negative relationship between reimbursement for fertility procedures and women in leadership.

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Advisor: Alison Hagy, Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: J22, J32, M51, M52 | Tagged: Employee Benefits, Women in Business Leadership, Work-Life Balance


Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly