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Leverage and Varying Metrics of Firm Performance

By Preston Jiateng Huang

This paper sets out to examine the effect of leverage on company performance. Drawing on the methodology of key prior research, this study finds that leverage has a consistent negative effect on firm growth; by contrast, no such negative impact was found on return on equity. Importantly, such patterns hold throughout the entire period under study (1970-2017), during which several disruptive economic events have occurred. These results highlight the importance of selecting appropriate company performance measures when studying the effect of debt load on a firm as well as the misalignment of incentives for policymakers and company management. Other implications are also discussed.

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Advisor: Professor Kyle Jurado | JEL Codes: G24; G31; G32

The Investment Cost of Currency Crises in Emerging Markets: An Empirical Treatment from 1994-2015

By Eric Ramoutar

Currency crises – large and sudden depreciations in the value of a country’s currency – have been an unfortunate by-product of increased financial openness over the last half century. This study extends the already vast literature on the impact of currency crises by estimating how currency crises affect domestic investment in emerging markets. Specifically, the study uses panel data with fixed effects and various robust standard errors as well as a generalized method of moments estimator to investigate the impact of currency crises on domestic investment in a sample of 14 countries that experienced currency crises between 1994 and 2015 and 10 that did not. The results of the analysis initially indicate that, after controlling for a host of macroeconomic fundamentals, currency crises contribute significantly to dampened domestic investment. Ultimately, after controlling for banking crises, the study concludes that relatively severe, but not all, currency crises have a significant depressing effect on investment. The results further indicate that all currency crises should not be treated equally; those involving exceptionally large depreciations lead to an even greater decline in domestic investment.

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Advisor: Cosmin Ilut | JEL Codes: E4, F3, F4, E42, F31, F32, F41, G01

Do Vanguard ETF Investors Make Good Decisions? – Testing the Bogle Hypothesis

By Meng Xie

John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, is a notable opponent of frequent ETF trading. We test his
hypothesis that Vanguard investors are not trading ETFs intelligently. A comparison of dollarweighted
and time-weighted returns is the typical method used for assessing investor timing. We
instead employ Sharpe’s style analysis techniques to compare the returns of a portfolio of ETFs
to a basket of standard Vanguard funds that mimics the ETF portfolio’s pattern of returns. We
find that the ETF portfolio underperforms the standard Vanguard funds, providing empirical
evidence supporting Bogle’s view that ETFs are misused.

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Advisor: Edward Tower | JEL Codes: G11 | Tagged: Exchange-traded funds, Investment, Mutual funds, Vanguard

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