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Do Investors Forecast Fat Firms? Evidence from the Gold Mining Industry

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  • Borenstein, Severin
  • Farrell, Joseph

Abstract

JEL CODES: D21, G3, L2, L72 KEYWORDS: profit function, free cash flow, gold mining, x-efficiency, rent seeking, fat ABSTRACT: Conventional economic theory assumes that firms always minimize costs given the output they produce. News articles and interviews with executives, however, indicate that firms from time to time engage in cost-cutting exercises. One popular belief is that firms cut costs when they are in economic distress, and grow fat when they are relatively wealthy. We explore this hypothesis by studying how the stock market valuations of gold mining companies vary with gold prices. The value of a cost-minimizing, profit-maximizing firm is convex in the price of a competitively supplied input or output, but we find that the stock values of many gold mining companies are concave in the price of gold. We show that this is consistent with fat accumulation when a firm grows wealthy. We then address a number of potential alternative explanations and discuss where fat in these companies might reside.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series with number qt4h02v1jp.

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Date of creation: 31 Jan 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:compol:qt4h02v1jp

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Keywords: profit function; free cash flow; gold mining; x-efficiency; rent seeking; fat;

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References

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  1. Robert S. Pindyck, 1992. "The Present Value Model of Rational Commodity Pricing," NBER Working Papers 4083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John R. Graham & Daniel A. Rogers, 2002. "Do Firms Hedge in Response to Tax Incentives?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(2), pages 815-839, 04.
  3. Olivier J. Blanchard & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane, 1993. "What do Firms do with Cash Windfalls?," NBER Working Papers 4258, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Peter Tufano, 1998. "The Determinants of Stock Price Exposure: Financial Engineering and the Gold Mining Industry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(3), pages 1015-1052, 06.
  5. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  6. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Joseph Farrell & Severin Borenstein, 2000. "Is Cost-Cutting Evidence of X-Inefficiency?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 224-227, May.
  2. Alberto Behar & James Hodge, 2007. "The employment effects of mergers in a declining industry: the case of South African gold mining," Economics Series Working Papers 335, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  3. Doh Shin Jeon, . "Relying on the agent in charge of production for project evaluation," Economics Working Papers 623, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2006.
  4. Maliranta, Mika, 2002. "From R&D to Productivity Through Micro-Level Restructuring," Discussion Papers 795, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
  5. Jose E. Galdon Sanchez & James A. Schmitz, Jr., 1999. "Threats to industry survival and labor productivity: world iron-ore markets in the 1980's," Staff Report 263, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Jose E. Galdon-Sanchez & James A. Schmitz, Jr., 2003. "Competitive pressure and labor productivity: world iron ore markets in the 1980s," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 9-23.
  7. Leemore S. Dafny, 2010. "Are Health Insurance Markets Competitive?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1399-1431, September.
  8. Doh-Shin Jeon, 2003. "A Theory of Information Flows," Working Papers 77, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  9. David Levinson & Reinaldo Garcia & Kathy Carlson, 2001. "A Framework for Assessing Public Private Partnerships," Working Papers 200712, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
  10. Benjamin Bridgman, 2011. "Competition, Work Rules and Productivity," 2011 Meeting Papers 289, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. Leemore Dafny, 2008. "Are Health Insurance Markets Competitive?," NBER Working Papers 14572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Juha Kilponen & Torsten Santavirta, 2004. "Competition and Innovation - Microeconometric Evidence using Finnish Data," Research Reports 113, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).

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