Working Papers

MFA Best Doctoral Paper Award (2021)

WFA PhD Candidate Award For Outstanding Research (2021)

EFA Engelbert Dockner Memorial Prize for the Best Paper by Young Researchers, Runner-Up (2021)

FMA Best Paper in Investments (2021)

Risk premia are significantly elevated during periods of democratization in a cross-country panel of equity data covering 85 countries over 200 years, despite little evidence of a negative effect on either realized or expected GDP and dividends. This result is explained in an asset pricing model in which wealthy asset market participants face higher taxes when democratizations succeed. Finally, using a shift in Catholic church doctrine in support of democracy, majority Catholic autocracies display significantly higher average excess returns relative to other countries in a difference-in-differences framework. These results shed light on how redistribution risk shapes asset prices.

Presented At: Econometric Society European Winter Meeting, Econometric Society World Congress, MFA, MFA Doctoral Symposium, Trans-Atlantic Doctoral Conference, WFA, World Finance Conference, Young Economist Symposium, EFA, NFA, FMA, UBC Winter Finance Conference, BSE Summer Forum

with Sylvain Catherine and Natasha Sarin

Red Rock Finance Conference Best Paper Award (2020)

SFS Cavalcade Best Paper in Asset Pricing (2021)

Recent influential work finds large increases in inequality in the U.S. based on measures of wealth concentration that notably exclude the value of social insurance programs. This paper revisits this conclusion by incorporating Social Security retirement benefits into measures of wealth inequality. We find that top wealth shares have not increased in the last three decades when Social Security is properly accounted for. This finding is robust to assumptions about how taxes and benefits may change in response to system financing concerns. When discounted at the risk-free rate, real Social Security wealth increased substantially from $4.9 trillion in 1989 to $52.6 trillion in 2019. When we adjust the discount rate for long-run macroeconomic risk, this increase remains sizable, growing from over $4.0 trillion in 1989 to $41.2 trillion in 2019. Consequently, by 2019, Social Security wealth represents 59% of the wealth of the bottom 90% of the wealth distribution.

Presented At: Chicago Annual Household Finance Conference*, EconTwitter Conference*, NBER SI CRIW*, Red Rock Finance Conference*, CEPR European Conference on Household Finance*, NFA*, NBER Public Finance*, ASU Sonoran*, SFS Cavalcade, WFA*NBER SI Inequality and the Macroeconomy*

*Denotes presentation by co-author

Press: Marginal Revolution, Pro-Market, The Economist

Presentation link: SFS Cavalcade

with James Paron and Jessica Wachter

Sovereign debt yields have declined dramatically over the last half-century. Standard explanations for this decline, including aging populations and increases in asset demand from abroad, encounter difficulties when confronted with the full range of evidence across asset classes. We propose instead that the decline in inflation and default risk caused falling interest rates, a phenomenon that is not unique to our century. We show that a model with investment, inventory storage, and sovereign default captures the decline in interest rates, the stability of equity valuation ratios, and the recent reduction in investment and output growth corresponding to the zero lower bound.

Presented At: NBER SI Capital Markets, SF Fed Conference on Macro and Monetary Policy*, WFA*NBER SI Asset Pricing

*Denotes presentation by co-author

with Marco Grotteria and S. Lakshmi Naaraayanan

We provide the first large-sample evidence of foreign influence in US politics, showing that meetings between foreign countries and legislators affect government resource allocation directly for countries and indirectly for firms. To do so, we introduce a comprehensive dataset of date-stamped meetings between foreign countries and individual US legislators, spanning 2000 to 2018 and covering 146 countries, 1,200 US legislators, and 10 Congresses. From this new dataset, three facts emerge: (1) foreign countries lobby most intensely for trade and the economy, (2) meetings are positively related to legislator lawmaking effectiveness and past employment connections with lobbyists while they are unrelated to political ideology, and (3) foreign countries maintain connections with all legislators even after they depart from committees that are important in allocating public resources. Using legislator deaths as a shock to connections, our estimates imply a per-meeting direct loss of US$5.7 million to countries in foreign aid and indirect loss to foreign firms in state subsidies and government contracts amounting to US$250,000. Overall, these results highlight the significance of foreign influence in the US and present new observations to guide work in economics, public finance, and political science.

Presented At: Craig Holden Memorial Conference, CEPR Political Economy*, ISB Summer Conference, FMA (Scheduled)

*Denotes presentation by co-author

with Sylvain Catherine, James Paron, and Natasha Sarin

We present a life-cycle model in which households can invest in short- or long-term assets to hedge against interest-rate risk. Our model matches important stylized facts. First, the share of long-term assets in households' wealth is hump-shaped over the life-cycle. Within cohorts, it increases with wealth and earnings. Second, wealth inequality grows when interest rates fall, but only when wealth does not include the value of Social Security. Hedging demand against interest-rate risk can explain 40% of long-run changes in wealth inequality since 1960.

Presented At: LBS Summer Finance Symposium*

*Denotes presentation by co-author

Publications

Journal of Public Economics (2020)

with Sylvain Catherine and Natasha Sarin

Press: MarketWatch, MarketWatchMarketWatch

Journal of Portfolio Management​ (2020)

with Jonathan Berk and Jules van Binsbergen

Technical Reports

FEDS Note (2016)

with Elizabeth Holmquist and Youngsuk Yook