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Essays in Macroeconomics and Finance


For the past two decades, economists have focused intensive effort on building Macroeconomics on a firm Microeconomic foundation. As Macroeconomic research are more integrated with Microeconomics, more and better micro evidence has been examined to verify Macroeconomic theories. One recent development in this line of research uses detailed firm-level evidence to modify current Macroeconomic theories. In this dissertation extensive firm-level evidence are studied to shed light on important macro issues such as investment dynamics, financial frictions, regulations and productivity growth. In this study firm behaviors are studied and modeled by utilizing theories from a variety of fields in Corporate Finance, Public Finance, International Economics, Macroeconomic Dynamics etc. Implications of these evidence on the economic theory are carefully examined and subsequent extension of existing models are proposed.

This dissertation consists of three chapters. All chapters study firm behaviors and their implications on macroeconomics, however, the focus of each is different. The first chapter studies issues of credit conditions, uncertainty and investment; the second chapter (co-

authored with Zhiyong An) engages the issues of taxation and international corporate finance; the third chapter show how regulations are likely impact foreign investment.

The first chapter explores the heterogeneity in firms' response to high economic uncertainty. I show that the effect of high economic uncertainty on firms' investment varies significantly with the degree of financial constraints. Firm decisions are studied in a model of non-convex adjustment costs and time-varying second moment shocks, with financial constraints. In my model, uncertainty makes financially-constrained firms cautious in capital spending and creates long periods of under-investment for these firms. Estimates from firm-level data show that publicly-traded companies' investment-to-capital ratio falls by an average of around 15% in response to a one standard deviation increase in uncertainty. Firms with easier access to credit are found to be much less responsive to uncertainty, consistent with the model's predictions. This implies that the effectiveness of stimulus policy may largely depend on firms' accessibility to credit in episodes of high uncertainty.

The second chapter (co-authored with Zhiyong An) studies how firms respond to a quasi-experiment in China. China's new Corporate income Tax Law was passed in March 2007 and took effect on January 1, 2008. It increases the effective corporate income tax rate from about 15% to 25% for foreign investment enterprises (FIEs), while keeps that unchanged at 25% for domestic enterprises (DEs). This study uses a difference-in-differences approach to investigate FIEs' response to the law. Employing the Chinese Industrial Enterprises Database (2002-2008) to implement the analysis, we find evidence that FIEs are responding to the law by shifting their income out of China. Second, the magnitude of the estimated response is larger for enterprises larger in size, which suggests the greater capability of shifting income across countries for larger enterprises. In addition, the response is more acute for investment enterprises from Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan (HMT) than that for other FIEs, which is consistent with the tax haven status of Hong Kong and Macau.

The third chapter studies productivity spillovers to domestic firms from foreign direct investment (FDI). Such productivity gain from FDI is considered to be the basis of policies that promote FDI in many countries. In this chapter, firm-level panel data from six European countries are examined to test a number of hypotheses regarding the impact of FDI on the productivity of domestic firms. I find evidence for the backward linkage channel of the FDI spillovers. Using a new dataset, Investing Across Borders 2010 that documents and scores regulations for FDI in 87 countries, this study goes further to explore how FDI-specific policies and institutions impact the spillovers from FDI inflows. Empirical evidence shows that good investment climate is associated with productivity gains, either by direct productivity contribution or by productivity increase in upstream industries. Higher ownership limit is shown to be significantly and positively correlated with productivity. However, productivity impact varies greatly across different investment climate measures.

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