Year of publication
- Do the elderly reduce housing equity? : An international comparison (2008)
- We explore the pattern of elderly homeownership using microeconomic surveys of 15 OECD countries, merging 60 national household surveys on about 300,000 individuals. In all countries the survey is repeated over time, permitting construction of an international dataset of repeated cross-sectional data. We find that ownership rates decline considerably after age 60 in all countries. However, a large part of the decline depends on cohort effects. Adjusting for them, we find that ownership rates start falling after age 70 and reach a percentage point per year decline after age 75. We find that differences across country ownership trajectories are correlated with indicators measuring the degree of market regulations.
- Financial market integration under EMU (2008)
- The single most important policy-induced innovation in the international financial system since the collapse of the Bretton-Woods regime is the institution of the European Monetary Union. This paper provides an account of how the process of financial integration has promoted financial development in the euro area. It starts by defining financial integration and how to measure it, analyzes the barriers that can prevent it and the effects of their removal on financial markets, and assesses whether the euro area has actually become more integrated. It then explores to which extent these changes in financial markets have influenced the performance of the euro-area economy, that is, its growth and investment, as well as its ability to adjust to shocks and to allow risk-sharing. The paper concludes analyzing further steps that are required to consolidate financial integration and enhance the future stability of financial markets.
- Information sharing and credit : firm-level evidence from transition countries (2008)
- We investigate whether information sharing among banks has affected credit market performance in the transition countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, using a large sample of firm-level data. Our estimates show that information sharing is associated with improved availability and lower cost of credit to firms. This correlation is stronger for opaque firms than transparent ones and stronger in countries with weak legal environments than in those with strong legal environments. In cross-sectional estimates, we control for variation in country-level aggregate variables that may affect credit, by examining the differential impact of information sharing across firm types. In panel estimates, we also control for the presence of unobserved heterogeneity at the firm level, as well as for changes in macroeconomic variables and the legal environment.
- Cognitive abilities and portfolio choice (2008)
- We study the relation between cognitive abilities and stockholding using the recent Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), which has detailed data on wealth and portfolio composition of individuals aged 50+ in 11 European countries and three indicators of cognitive abilities: mathematical, verbal fluency, and recall skills. We find that the propensity to invest in stocks is strongly associated with cognitive abilities, for both direct stock market participation and indirect participation through mutual funds and retirement accounts. Since the decision to invest in less information-intensive assets (such as bonds) is less strongly related to cognitive abilities, we conclude that the association between cognitive abilities and stockholding is driven by information constraints, rather than by features of preferences or psychological traits.
- Financial advisors: a case of babysitters? (2009)
- We merge administrative information from a large German discount brokerage firm with regional data to examine if financial advisors improve portfolio performance. Our data track accounts of 32,751 randomly selected individual customers over 66 months and allow direct comparison of performance across self-managed accounts and accounts run by, or in consultation with, independent financial advisors. In contrast to the picture painted by simple descriptive statistics, econometric analysis that corrects for the endogeneity of the choice of having a financial advisor suggests that advisors are associated with lower total and excess account returns, higher portfolio risk and probabilities of losses, and higher trading frequency and portfolio turnover relative to what account owners of given characteristics tend to achieve on their own. Regression analysis of who uses an IFA suggests that IFAs are matched with richer, older investors rather than with poorer, younger ones.
- Economic literacy: an international comparison (2010)
- Many studies show that most people are not financially literate and are unfamiliar with even the most basic economic concepts. However, the evidence on the determinants of economic literacy is scant. This paper uses international panel data on 55 countries from 1995 to 2008, merging indicators of economic literacy with a large set of macroeconomic and institutional variables. Results show that there is substantial heterogeneity of financial and economic competence across countries, and that human capital indicators (PISA test scores and college attendance) are positively correlated with economic literacy. Furthermore, inhabitants of countries with more generous social security systems are generally less literate, lending support to the hypothesis that the incentives to acquire economic literacy are related to the amount of resources available for private accumulation. JEL Classification: E2, D8, G1 Keywords: Economic Literacy, Human Capital, Social Security
- Investment in financial literacy and saving decisions (2011)
- We present an intertemporal consumption model of consumer investment in financial literacy. Consumers benefit from such investment because their stock of financial literacy allows them to increase the returns on their wealth. Since literacy depreciates over time and has a cost in terms of current consumption, the model determines an optimal investment in literacy. The model shows that financial literacy and wealth are determined jointly, and are positively correlated over the life cycle. Empirically, the model leads to an instrumental variables approach, in which the initial stock of financial literacy (as measured by math performance in school) is used as an instrument for the current stock of literacy. Using microeconomic and aggregate data, we find a strong effect of financial literacy on wealth accumulation and national saving, and also show that ordinary least squares estimates underestate the impact of financial literacy on saving. JEL Classification: E2, D8, G1, J24 Keywords: Financial Literacy, Cognitive Abilities, Human Capital, Saving
- Wealth shocks, unemployment shocks and consumption in the wake of the Great Recession (2011)
- We use data from the 2009 Internet Survey of the Health and Retirement Study to examine the consumption impact of wealth shocks and unemployment during the Great Recession in the US. We find that many households experienced large capital losses in housing and in their financial portfolios, and that a non-trivial fraction of respondents have lost their job. As a consequence of these shocks, many households reduced substantially their expenditures. We estimate that the marginal propensities to consume with respect to housing and financial wealth are 1 and 3.3 percentage points, respectively. In addition, those who became unemployed reduced spending by 10 percent. We also distinguish the effect of perceived transitory and permanent wealth shocks, splitting the sample between households who think that the stock market is likely to recover in a year’s time, and those who don’t. In line with the predictions of standard models of intertemporal choice, we find that the latter group adjusted much more than the former its spending in response to financial wealth shocks.
- Investment in financial literacy, social security and portfolio choice : [version may 21, 2013] (2013)
- We present an intertemporal portfolio choice model where individuals invest in financial literacy, save, allocate their wealth between a safe and a risky asset, and receive a pension when they retire. Financial literacy affects the excess return and the cost of stock market participation. Since literacy depreciates over time and has a cost related to current consumption, investors simultaneously choose how much to save, the portfolio allocation, and the optimal investment in literacy. This last depends on households' resources, its preference parameters and on how much financial literacy affects the returns on risky assets and the stock market participation cost, and the returns on social security wealth. The model implies one should observe a positive correlation between stock market participation (and risky asset share, conditional on participation) and financial literacy, and a negative correlation between the generosity of the social security system and financial literacy. The model also implies that the stock of financial literacy accumulated early in life is positively correlated with the individual's wealth and portfolio allocations later in life. Using microeconomic cross-country data, we find support for these predictions.
- Manipulating reliance on intuition reduces risk and ambiguity aversion (2013)
- Prior research suggests that those who rely on intuition rather than effortful reasoning when making decisions are less averse to risk and ambiguity. The evidence is largely correlational, however, leaving open the question of the direction of causality. In this paper, we present experimental evidence of causation running from reliance on intuition to risk and ambiguity preferences. We directly manipulate participants’ predilection to rely on intuition and find that enhancing reliance on intuition lowers the probability of being ambiguity averse by 30 percentage points and increases risk tolerance by about 30 percent in the experimental sub-population where we would a priori expect the manipulation to be successful(males).