Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Essays on Corporate Finance
by Zhang, Kuo, Ph.D., The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong), 2016, 128; 10300475
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation has two essays. Both essays investigate important questions in corporate finance. The first essay examines firms’ cash holding policies and the related shareholder value implications. We find that the greater is the fraction of a firm’s cash held overseas, the lower shareholders value that cash. This goes beyond a pure tax effect—the repatriation tax friction disrupts the firm’s internal capital market, distorting its investment policy. Firms underinvest domestically and overinvest abroad. Our findings are more pronounced when firms are subject to higher repatriation tax rates, higher costs of borrowing, and more agency problems. Overall, our evidence suggests that a combination of taxes, financing frictions, and agency problems leads to a valuation discount for foreign cash and documents real effects of how foreign earnings are taxed.

The second essay provides evidence on the impact of workers’ unemployment risk, a salient attribute of labor market frictions, on the design of CEO incentive compensation. Exploiting state-level changes in unemployment insurance benefits as a source of variation in the unemployment costs faced by workers, we find that, after unemployment insurance benefits increase, boards adjust the compensation structure and provide managers with more stock option grants that result in more convexity payoffs. Such a change is consistent with the view that CEO’s risk-taking incentives are amplified to take advantage of lower unemployment costs. The increase in convexity payoff structures is more pronounced in labor-intensive industries and industries that have higher layoff propensity, but is significantly attenuated when strong labor unions are present. The results are also stronger when CEO wealth is more closely tied to firm performance. Finally, we show that the increase in convexity payoff from option-based compensation induces firms to undertake more risky investments that deliver improved operating performance after the increase in unemployment insurance benefits. These results suggest that firms respond to unemployment risk by changing their risk taking behavior, and one channel through which they do so is executive compensation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wang, Cong
School: The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
School Location: Hong Kong
Source: DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Accounting, Business administration, Finance
Keywords: CEO composition, Repatriation tax, Risk taking, Trapped cash, Unemployed risk, Value of cash
Publication Number: 10300475
ISBN: 978-1-369-42647-2
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