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

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  • Severin Borenstein
  • Joseph Farrell

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 the response of the stock market values of gold mining companies to changes in 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 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7075.

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Date of creation: Apr 1999
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Publication status: published as Borenstein, Severin and Joe Farrell. "Do Investors Forecast Fat Firms? Evidence from the Gold Mining Industry." Rand Journal of Economics 38 (Autumn 2007).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7075

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  1. Pindyck, Robert S, 1993. "The Present Value Model of Rational Commodity Pricing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(418), pages 511-30, May.
  2. 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.
  3. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 1994. "What do firms do with cash windfalls?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 337-360, December.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  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. David Levinson & Reinaldo Garcia & Kathy Carlson, 2001. "A Framework for Assessing Public Private Partnerships," Working Papers 200712, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
  2. Maliranta, Mika, 2002. "From R&D to Productivity Through Micro-Level Restructuring," Discussion Papers 795, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
  3. Benjamin Bridgman, 2011. "Competition, Work Rules and Productivity," 2011 Meeting Papers 289, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Juha Kilponen & Torsten Santavirta, 2004. "Competition and Innovation - Microeconometric Evidence using Finnish Data," Research Reports 113, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  5. Behar Alberto & Hodge James, 2008. "The Employment Effects of Mergers in a Declining Industry: The Case of South African Gold Mining," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-20, August.
  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. 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.
  8. Leemore S. Dafny, 2010. "Are Health Insurance Markets Competitive?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1399-1431, September.
  9. Doh-Shin Jeon, 2003. "A Theory of Information Flows," Working Papers 77, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  10. Leemore Dafny, 2008. "Are Health Insurance Markets Competitive?," NBER Working Papers 14572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

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