Essays on corporate investment and payout policies
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This dissertation comprises two independent essays that examine how the shareholder-creditor conflicts affect corporate investment, and how the enhanced labor power influences corporate payout policies. In the first chapter, I analyze the impact of shareholder-creditor conflicts on corporate risk-taking. In particular, I examine the role played by institutional dual-holders (i.e., those simultaneously holding a same firm's debt and equity) in corporate innovation. I find that firms held by dual-holders generate fewer but more valuable patents. To establish causality, I use a difference-in-differences approach based on the quasi-natural experiment of financial institution mergers. I further find that the decreased sensitivity of managerial compensation to firm risk might be one possible channel through which dual-holders affect risk shifting. The results suggest that shareholder-creditor conflicts indeed exist and lead to risk shifting, and that institutional dual ownership can partially mitigate this problem. The second chapter studies labor power as an important but largely under-explored determinant of corporate payout policy. Using a regression discontinuity approach that exploits locally exogenous variation in labor’s collective bargaining power, I find that an increase in labor power lowers corporate payout. Operating flexibility is a plausible underlying mechanism through which labor power influences corporate payout. Firms use the saved earnings from reductions in payout to invest in net working capital rather than paying off debt or increasing cash holdings. This essay sheds new light on the determinants of payout policy and the role of labor power in corporate finance decisions.