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Does the Stock Market Harm Investment Incentives?

Author

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  • Asker, John
  • Farre-Mensa, Joan
  • Ljungqvist, Alexander P.

Abstract

We examine whether stock market-listed firms in the U.S. invest suboptimally due to agency costs resulting from separation of ownership and control. We derive testable predictions to distinguish between underinvestment due to rational “short-termism” and overinvestment due to “empire building.” Empirical identification relies on a proxy for optimal investment derived from a rich new data source on unlisted U.S. firms. Listed firms invest less and are less responsive to changes in investment opportunities compared to matched unlisted firms, especially in industries in which stock prices are particularly sensitive to current profits. Listed firms also tend to smooth their earnings growth and dividends and are reluctant to report negative earnings. These findings are consistent with short-termism and contrary to what one would expect if empire-building were the dominant agency problem in the stock market. Our results suggest that the stock market harms investment incentives, at least for the fast-growing companies in our sample.

Suggested Citation

  • Asker, John & Farre-Mensa, Joan & Ljungqvist, Alexander P., 2010. "Does the Stock Market Harm Investment Incentives?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7857, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7857
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    Cited by:

    1. Ding, Haina, 2015. "Innovation strategies and stock price informativeness," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 491, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    2. Martinez, Isabelle & Serve, Stéphanie, 2011. "The delisting decision: The case of buyout offer with squeeze-out (BOSO)," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 228-239.
    3. O’Connor, Matthew & Rafferty, Matthew & Sheikh, Aamer, 2013. "Equity compensation and the sensitivity of research and development to financial market frictions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(7), pages 2510-2519.
    4. Behr, Patrick & Norden, Lars & Noth, Felix, 2013. "Financial constraints of private firms and bank lending behavior," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 3472-3485.
    5. Campello, Murillo & Graham, John R., 2013. "Do stock prices influence corporate decisions? Evidence from the technology bubble," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(1), pages 89-110.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agency problems; Corporate investment; Empire building; IPOs; Managerial incentives; Managerial myopia; Private companies; Short-termism;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance

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