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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Essays in Financial Economics

  • Author(s): Sohn, Sung Bin
  • Advisor(s): Malmendier, Ulrike
  • et al.

This dissertation consists of three essays in financial economics. The first two essays explore how initial public offerings are affected by various stock market conditions. In the third essay, I study the meaning of innovations in investor sentiment.

In the first essay, I use cointegration techniques to decompose stock market shocks into permanent and transitory shocks, building on the idea that transitory shocks should not have long-run effects on dividends and stock prices. The decomposed shocks improve on existing valuation measures by indicating the extent to which market value is driven by permanent or transitory fluctuations. I then examine the effects of these shocks on several aspects of IPOs, and find that (1) despite the lack of long-run effects on firms' value, more firms go public in response to stronger transitory shocks; (2) firms that go public after stronger transitory shocks underperform their benchmark more severely in the long run; (3) during the book-building period, managers are more likely to limit secondary share sales after stronger transitory shocks; and (4) managers who limit secondary share sales further during the book-building period exhibit more severe long-run underperformance. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that transitory shocks induce more IPOs that opportunistically exploit temporarily higher market valuation than IPOs that finance profitable projects in better market conditions. The findings are also consistent with the hypothesis that managers are more prone to become overconfident after stronger transitory shocks and that the resulting overconfidence leads to long-run underperformance. The decomposition methodology can also be applied to other corporate finance decisions such as SEOs, mergers and investments.

The second essay establishes a model that incorporates both uncertainty and dispersion of opinion to examine how these two factors affect IPO stock performance. The model predicts that, unlike uncertainty, dispersion of opinion has nonlinear effects. There is a threshold of dispersion of opinion below which the dispersion does not affect IPO stock performance. Above the threshold, on the other hand, larger dispersion of opinion bids up the stock price higher and consequently yields the lower long-run return. The level of the threshold is increasing in the amount of free-floating shares in the market. Since IPO firms tend to have relatively small free-floating shares than other listed firms, IPO stocks are more subject to the dispersion of opinion. Thus, empirical researches that do not control the dispersion of opinion can produce misleading results on IPO performance. The model also predicts IPOs observations are subject to self-selection bias. Private firms would decide not to go public under the combination of high uncertainty and small dispersion of opinion, which could actually yield high long-run returns. This prediction helps explain the time variation of IPO volume and the general pattern of IPO long-run underperformance.

The third essay tries to understand the meaning of innovations in investor sentiment. The role of investor sentiment in the stock market has attracted attentions of economists. Previous papers show that investor sentiment has return predictability and it is more pronounced among stocks that are more difficult to value and to arbitrage, and emphasize the behavioral role of investor sentiment. However, it still remains unclear whether this predictability is due to a causal effect of autonomous animal spirits or not. Alternatively, investor sentiment may reflect systematic risks and the predictability could be mere coincidence, not causation. For a structural interpretation, I introduce a modified version of the long-run risks model in which sentiment innovations arise from both animal spirit shocks and several risk shocks, and animal spirit shocks could affect stock returns. By matching impulse responses from data simulated according to the theoretical model to those from actual data, I estimate parameters in the model. The estimated model moderately replicates the historical data in the actual stock market. The estimation results show that a substantial amount of variation in investor sentiment is explained by systematic risk shocks as well as by animal spirit shocks, and that animal spirit shocks can have significant effects on stock returns. The findings suggest that investor sentiment is a noisy proxy of animal spirits and that autonomous animal spirits are at least in part responsible for the apparent return predictability of investor sentiment.

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