nep-bec New Economics Papers
on Business Economics
Issue of 2009‒05‒02
sixteen papers chosen by
Christian Calmes
Universite du Quebec en Outaouais

  1. The Effects of General and Firm-Spesific Training on Wages and Performance: Evidence from Banking By Derek Jones; Panu -Kauhanen Kalmi
  2. The Impact of Trade Costs on Firm Entry, Exporting, and Survival in Korea By Kim, Sooil; Reimer, Jeffrey J.; gopinath, Munisamy
  3. Firms' Exporting Behavior under Quality Constraints By Juan Carlos Hallak; Jagadeesh Sivadasan
  4. Long waves and short cycles in a model of endogenous financial fragility By Soon Ryoo
  5. The effects of stock options accounting regulation on corporate governance: A comparative European study By Butzbach, Olivier; Di Carlo, Ferdinando
  6. Business Cycles in the Euro Area Defined with Coincident Economic Indicators and Predicted with Leading Economic Indicators By Ataman Ozyildirim; Brian Schaitkin; Victor Zarnowitz
  7. Outsourcing induced by strategic competition By Chen, Yutian; Dubey, Pradeep; Sen, Debapriya
  8. On Competition and the Strategic Management of Intellectual Property in Oligopoly By Jos Jansen
  9. Why Do Foreign Firms Have Less Idiosyncratic Risk than U.S. Firms? By Söhnke M. Bartram; Gregory Brown; René M. Stulz
  10. Export, Productivity and Product Switching: The Case of Italian Manufacturing Firms By Sergio de Nardis; Carmine Pappalardo
  11. Wages and Human Capital in the U.S. Financial Industry: 1909-2006 By Philippon, Thomas; Reshef, Ariell
  12. Price Movements in the Canadian Residential Mortgage Market By Jason Allen; Darcey McVanel
  13. Contagion of Liquidity Crisis between Firms By Dong Chuhl Oh
  14. Risk, Overconfidence and Production in a Competitive Equilibrium By Just, David R.; Cao, Ying; Zilberman, David
  15. Three Epochs of Oil By Eyal Dvir; Kenneth S. Rogoff
  16. Trade based on economies of scale under monopolistic competition: a clarification of Krugman's model By Emanuel R. Leão and Pedro R. Leão

  1. By: Derek Jones; Panu -Kauhanen Kalmi
    Abstract: ABSTRACT : By using new panel data for Finnish banks we study the impact of training on wages and performance. To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first paper to compare explicitly the effects of general and firmspecific workplace training on outcomes for both employees and firms. Unlike much existing literature, we find stronger evidence that training improves worker outcomes rather than organizational performance. Depending upon specification, the estimated wage elasticity with respect to training is in the range of 3-7%, whereas the performance effects vary widely depending on the measures of training intensity. The other key finding is that general training is associated with higher wage and performance effects than is firm-specific training. YLEISEN JA YRITYSKOHTAISEN KOULUTUKSEN VAIKUTUKSET PALKKOIHIN JA MENESTYMISEEN : Näyttöä pankkitoimialalta
    JEL: M53 J24 G21
    Date: 2009–04–22
  2. By: Kim, Sooil; Reimer, Jeffrey J.; gopinath, Munisamy
    Abstract: This study uses a unique firm-level dataset to examine how falling trade costs from 1993-2001 affected entry, exit, productivity, and exporting in the Korean manufacturing sector. We verify many of the predictions of recent heterogeneous-firm models of international trade. For example, falling trade costs reduced entry by new Korean firms, increased their probability of exit, and reduced the market share of surviving firms. We also find that small firms had a particularly high level of dynamism over the sample period. Small firms were more likely to enter and exit, and marginally more likely to gain market share, enter export markets for the first time, and improve their productivity.
    Keywords: Employment, Exit, Exports, Firm deaths, Survival, Trade costs, Agribusiness, Industrial Organization, International Development, International Relations/Trade, Labor and Human Capital, Marketing, Production Economics, Productivity Analysis, Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies, F10, D24,
    Date: 2009
  3. By: Juan Carlos Hallak; Jagadeesh Sivadasan
    Abstract: We develop a model of international trade with export quality requirements and two dimensions of firm heterogeneity. In addition to "productivity", firms are also heterogeneous in their "caliber" -- the ability to produce quality using fewer fixed inputs. Compared to single-attribute models of firm heterogeneity emphasizing either productivity or the ability to produce quality, our model provides a more nuanced characterization of firms' exporting behavior. In particular, it explains the empirical fact that firm size is not monotonically related with export status: there are small firms that export and large firms that only operate in the domestic market. The model also delivers novel testable predictions. Conditional on size, exporters are predicted to sell products of higher quality and at higher prices, pay higher wages and use capital more intensively. These predictions, although apparently intuitive, cannot be derived from single-attribute models of firm heterogeneity as they imply no variation in export status after size is controlled for. We find strong support for the predictions of our model in manufacturing establishment datasets for India, the U.S., Chile, and Colombia.
    JEL: F10 F12 F14
    Date: 2009–04
  4. By: Soon Ryoo (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
    Abstract: This paper presents a stock-flow consistent macroeconomic model in which fi- nancial fragility in firm and household sectors evolves endogenously through the interaction between real and financial sectors. Changes in firms’ and households’ financial practices produce long waves. The Hopf bifurcation theorem is applied to clarify the conditions for the existence of limit cycles, and simulations illustrate stable limit cycles. The long waves are characterized by periodic economic crises following long expansions. Short cycles, generated by the interaction between effective demand and labor market dynamics, fluctuate around the long waves. JEL Categories: E12, E32, E44
    Keywords: cycles, long waves, financial fragility, stock-flow consistency
    Date: 2009–04
  5. By: Butzbach, Olivier; Di Carlo, Ferdinando
    Abstract: The use of stock options as executive compensation, after having developed in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, has spread to continental Europe in the past fifteen years. The increasing weight of stock options in this region of the world raises various issues and feeds a vast literature dealing with the relationship between corporate managers’ pay and performance. A good chunk of that literature is based on agency theory. In this line of thought a principal (the shareholder) delegates the management of the firm to an agent (the manager) and simultaneously sets up a series of control devices to make sure that the agent will act in his (the shareholder’s) interest (Jensen and Meckling, 1976). Agency theory does not limit itself with identifying potential conflicts of interests between managers and shareholders: it also explores the various means through which the firm’s owners try to make sure that managers seek to maximize their (the owners’) objectives. Optimal contracting theory precisely aims at identifying such means. According to that theory, the firm’s compensation policies should contribute to align the managers’ interests on those of the shareholders – to make sure, in other words, that the agent behaves in the interest of the principal (Murphy, 1999). Such a view, applied to executive compensation plans, has been recently exposed to a strong scepticism. The optimal contracting theory has a weak empirical basis, especially when applied to stock options – whose adoption does not seem to lead to a significant improvement of firms’ corporate governance. Several authors have underlined the importance of “pay without performance” (Murphy, 1999). Most empirical studies cannot find a positive relationship between the adoption of stock option plans and a significant improvement in firms’ performance. Several explanations have been proposed to explain that puzzle (such as, for instance, Bebchuk & Fried, 2004), all linked to rent extraction theory. According such theory, managers extract a rent from their position: concretely, they increase their capacity to change their own remuneration. In this scheme, stock-options, by nature, cannot succeed in aligning the agent’s interests on the principal’s; on the contrary, they strengthen or create new agency problems. This discussion can be linked to the theme of stock-options accounting and disclosure, which has been recently transformed by the adoption of international accounting standards in most developed economies. Indeed, according to the IFRS 2, stock-options are to be accounted for as labour costs, implying an increase of net liabilities within a specific reserve, with a value equal to the fair value of the options. This accounting method breaks significantly with the past, when disclosure of stock-options plans were left to the discretion of firms. Such a change in disclosure rules might have an impact on the corporate governance of European firms. Indeed, according to a growing literature (see Verrecchia, 2001, for an exhaustive review), disclosure (which can be defined as the publication of previously private relevant information) mediates the relation between a firm’s owners and managers. When disclosure is failing, corporate governance worsens, in that managers are able to hide the decisions which damage or threaten owners’ interests. In fact, in the current context, characterized by national and international regulatory reforms in favour of a more stringent disclosure, the academic discussion has shifted its focus from the causes to the consequences of disclosure, especially related to corporate governance (see Bushman & Smith, 2001). Turning the previous reasoning on its head, one can argue that, in presence of information asymmetries and agency conflicts between owners and managers, disclosure acquires a strategic value (Healy & Palepu, 2001). In particular, a better disclosure could help reduce contractual problems linked to agency relations (Lo, 2003), through, for instance, corporate reputation. In the (international) context of the adoption of more stringent norms on stock option disclosure (that is their recognition, meaning, as seen above, accounting stock-options as costs in a firm’s financial statement), both discussions are relevant. The new disclosure of stock-options could help reduce the risks of rent extraction tied to that form of compensation and bring them closer to their role as incentives assumed in the optimal contracting theory. The aim of the present work is to understand whether the aforementioned change in stock option accounting regulation has had an impact, and what impact, on the corporate governance of European firms, in the light of the twin literatures cited above. The sample considered here includes all listed Italian and French firms, excluding financial institutions, which have carried out stock option plans in 2005 and 2006, and therefore underwent the change in accounting regulation mentioned above. The analysis relies on qualitative and quantitative data, and focuses on a few key indicators. The findings of the present research suggest that the impact of new accounting rules and more stringent disclosure on listed French and Italian firms is not significant. The firms under study have not shown any substantial change in their management or governance structure, which appear to be still largely driven by the peculiar power distribution proper to each country. Besides, such firms have not received any market premium for introducing executive compensation schemes that theoretically provide incentives for top management to maximize owners’ interests. In any event, those plans remain a minority among listed firms. One could argue, therefore, that in Italy and France, like other countries in the world and the United States in particular, stock options plans have become another instrument used by executive managers to obtain higher remuneration with no link to the true performance of the firm and the interests of its owners. Such a logic is much closer to the rent extraction theory mentioned above (see, for the US, Dechow, Sutton, Sloan, 1996).
    Keywords: Stock-options; accounting; corporate governance; pay and performance; disclosure
    JEL: M41 K00 G34
    Date: 2008–11–15
  6. By: Ataman Ozyildirim (The Conference Board); Brian Schaitkin (The Conference Board); Victor Zarnowitz (The Conference Board)
    Abstract: Clusters of cyclical turning points in the coincident indicators help us identify and date Euro Area recessions and recoveries in the past several decades. In the U.S. and some other countries, composite indexes of coincident indicators (CEI) are used to date classical business cycle turning points; also indexes of leading indicators (LEI) are used to help in the difficult task of predicting these turning points. This paper reviews a selection of the available data for monthly and quarterly Euro Area coincident and leading indicators. From these data, we develop composite indexes using methods analogous to those tested in the U.S. CEI and LEI published by The Conference Board. We compare the resulting business cycle chronology with the existing alternatives and evaluate our selection of leading indicators in the context of how well they predict current economic activity and its major fluctuations for the Euro Area.
    Keywords: Business Cycle; Indicators; Leading Index; Times Series; Forecasting
    JEL: E32 C52 C53 C22
    Date: 2008–11
  7. By: Chen, Yutian; Dubey, Pradeep; Sen, Debapriya
    Abstract: We show that intermediate goods can be sourced to firms on the "outside" (that do not compete in the final product market), even when there are no economies of scale or cost advantages for these firms. What drives the phenomenon is that "inside" firms, by accepting such orders, incur the disadvantage of becoming Stackelberg followers in the ensuing competition to sell the final product. Thus they have incentive to quote high provider prices to ward off future competitors, driving the latter to source outside.
    Keywords: Intermediate goods; outsourcing; Cournot duopoly; Stackelberg duopoly
    JEL: L11 L13 D43
    Date: 2009–04–24
  8. By: Jos Jansen (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)
    Abstract: An innovative firm chooses strategically whether to patent its process innovation or rely on secrecy. By doing so, the firm manages its rival’s beliefs about the size of the innovation, and affects the incentives in the product market. Different measures of competitive pressure in the product market have different effects on the equilibrium patenting choices of an innovative firm with unknown costs and probabilistic patent validity. Increasing the number of firms (degree of product substitutability) gives a smaller (greater) patenting incentive. Switching from Bertrand to Cournot competition gives a smaller (greater) patenting incentive if patent protection is weak (strong).
    Keywords: Bertrand and Cournot competition, oligopoly, product differentiation, entry, asymmetric information, strategic disclosure, stochastic patent, trade secret, process innovation, imitation
    JEL: D82 L13 O31 O32
    Date: 2009–04
  9. By: Söhnke M. Bartram; Gregory Brown; René M. Stulz
    Abstract: Using a large panel of firms across the world from 1991-2006, we show that the median foreign firm has lower idiosyncratic risk than a comparable U.S. firm. Country characteristics help explain variation in the level of idiosyncratic risk, but less so than firm characteristics. Idiosyncratic risk falls as government stability and respect for the rule of law improve. Idiosyncratic risk is positively related to stock market development but negatively related to bond market development. Surprisingly, we find that idiosyncratic risk is generally negatively related to corporate disclosure quality. Finally, idiosyncratic risk generally increases with shareholder protection. Though there is evidence that R<sup>2</sup> increases with creditor rights and falls with the quality of disclosure, these results are driven by the relations between these variables and systematic risk rather than by the impact of these variables on idiosyncratic risk.
    JEL: E44 G12 G14 G15 G32
    Date: 2009–04
  10. By: Sergio de Nardis (ISAE-Institute for Studies and Economic Analyses); Carmine Pappalardo (ISAE-Institute for Studies and Economic Analyses)
    Abstract: During the first half of the current decade, with rising competitive pressures, Italian manufacturing firms were forced to undertake a process of restructuring which had positive repercussions on export performance. This paper carries out empirical analysis using a panel of exporting firms obtained by matching firm-level information gathered by ISTAT and ISAE surveys. Two main channels of adjustment are investigated: inter and intra-firm. On the inter-firm side, we find that exporters were actually more productive: exporting was an essential outcome of pre-existing productivity advantages that led to self-selection of more productive businesses in international markets. As for the intra-firm adjustment, we show that the high frequency of product switching behaviour within exporting firms was significantly correlated with firm-level productivity growth, and that it contributed to a reallocation of economic activity within firms to more productive uses.
    Keywords: heterogeneity, exporting, productivity, product switching.
    JEL: F10 J24 L11 L25
    Date: 2009–03
  11. By: Philippon, Thomas; Reshef, Ariell
    Abstract: We use detailed information about wages, education and occupations to shed light on the evolution of the U.S. financial sector over the past century. We uncover a set of new, interrelated stylized facts: financial jobs were relatively skill intensive, complex, and highly paid until the 1930s and after the 1980s, but not in the interim period. We investigate the determinants of this evolution and find that financial deregulation and corporate activities linked to IPOs and credit risk increase the demand for skills in financial jobs. Computers and information technology play a more limited role. Our analysis also shows that wages in finance were excessively high around 1930 and from the mid 1990s until 2006. For the recent period we estimate that rents accounted for 30% to 50% of the wage differential between the financial sector and the rest of the private sector.
    Keywords: finance; human capital; regulation; wages
    JEL: G0 J0 N0 O0
    Date: 2009–04
  12. By: Jason Allen; Darcey McVanel
    Abstract: The authors empirically analyze the price-setting behaviour of the major Canadian banks in the residential mortgage market over the period 1991–2007. They use weekly posted prices of the major mortgage providers to study the degree of competition in mortgage price setting. Their results suggest that the residential mortgage market is imperfectly competitive. They find distinct price leaders and that, as market concentration increases, so does price dispersion - helped by the increased use of discounting from posted prices. The authors also find that, although banks' pass-through of input price changes to mortgage prices is complete in the long run under reasonable assumptions regarding discounting, there exists some level of pricing asymmetry in the short run.
    Keywords: Financial Financial institutions; Financial services
    JEL: G2 D4
    Date: 2009
  13. By: Dong Chuhl Oh
    Date: 2009–04–21
  14. By: Just, David R.; Cao, Ying; Zilberman, David
    Abstract: Previous studies have found underestimation of risk, or overconfidence, to be pervasive. In this paper, we model overconfidence as a reduction in perceived variance. We generalize the analysis of Sandmo and examine the effects of competition on firms displaying overconfidence. Cases for both competitive equilibrium and imperfect competition are investigated. We show that overconfidence may strictly dominate rationality in a competitive market by leading risk averse producers to invest greater amounts and produce more. This leads to a higher average profit, and greater variance of profits, leaving the producer a greater probability of surviving competitive pressures. Despite the greater variance of profits, if enough producers underestimate their risk, they should collectively drive more rational decision makers from the market. Our results suggest that overconfidence may be as important a determinant of market behavior as diminishing marginal utility of wealth.
    Keywords: Overconfidence, Misperception, Production, Competition, Production Economics, Risk and Uncertainty,
    Date: 2009
  15. By: Eyal Dvir; Kenneth S. Rogoff
    Abstract: We test for changes in price behavior in the longest crude oil price series available (1861-2008). We find strong evidence for changes in persistence and in volatility of price across three well defined periods. We argue that historically, the real price of oil has tended to be highly persistent and volatile whenever rapid industrialization in a major world economy coincided with uncertainty regarding access to supply. We present a modified commodity storage model that fully incorporates demand, and further can accommodate both transitory and permanent shocks. We show that the role of storage when demand is subject to persistent growth shocks is speculative, instead of its classic mitigating role. This result helps to account for the increased volatility of oil price we observe in these periods.
    JEL: E0 L7 N5 Q4
    Date: 2009–04
  16. By: Emanuel R. Leão and Pedro R. Leão
    Abstract: Although a major contribution to trade theory, Krugman’s 1979 demonstration that ‘trade can arise and lead to mutual gains even when countries are similar’ fails to make explicit the economic mechanisms that lead up to this result. The current paper attempts to fill this gap by addressing several questions that are implicit in Krugman’s demonstration but which he does not explicitly analyze: - What is the effect of trade upon the demand curve faced by the typical firm in each nation? - How do firms react to the change in the demand curves they face, and what is the short-term outcome of their behaviour? - Why do some firms fail? - What is the role of the failure of firms in the adjustment to the final free trade equilibrium?
    Keywords: Krugman, intra-industry trade, economies of scale, monopolistic competition.
    JEL: F12
    Date: 2009–03

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