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Essays in Financial Liberalization and the Aggregate Economy


This dissertation consists of three essays on the effects of financial liberalization on the aggregate economy. In the first essay, I analyze empirically the effects of financial deregulation on wage inequality. To identify the causal effect of the reform, I exploit differences in external financial dependence and capital-skill complementarity across industries. I analyze two different episodes of deregulation: across countries within Europe and across states within the U.S. I provide evidence that, in both episodes, financial liberalization increases wage inequality disproportionally in industries with high financial needs and strong complementarity. I also find that the differential effect on relative wages is particularly strong in economies with rigid labor markets, while the effect on relative labor flows is stronger in economies with flexible labor markets.

In the second essay, I conduct a quantitative analysis to calculate the effect of financial liberalization on aggregate inequality. I develop a simple two-sector general-equilibrium model with capital and labor market frictions. I calibrate the model in order to match the reduced form results documented in the first essay. According to a back-of-the envelope calculation, financial liberalization explains 20\% and 15\% of the increase in aggregate inequality in the U.K. and the U.S. during the 1980-2000 period, respectively. The simulation also shows that financial liberalization leads to an increase in the level of wages of both types of labor.

In the third essay, co-authored with Sebastian Stumpner, we analyze empirically the effects of financial liberalization on total factor productivity (TFP) and capital misallocation. We use a large cross-country firm-level database and find that deregulation increases productivity disproportionally in industries with high financial needs and low asset tangibility. We decompose industry productivity into an average-productivity term and an allocation term, measured by the size-productivity covariance, and find that the industry TFP gains are primarily driven by a reduction in misallocation across firms. We also find that financial liberalization decreases the within-industry variance of the marginal product of capital and decreases the covariance between the marginal product of capital and TFP. Finally, we document that deregulation increases the market share of domestically-owned firms, which ex-ante are more financially constrained.

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