- Initial public offerings and venture capital in Germany (2003)
- We present a survey on the role of initial public offerings (Epos) and venture capital (VC) in Germany after the Second World War. Between 1945 and 1983 IPOs hardly played a role at all and only a minor role thereafter. In addition, companies that chose an IPO were much older and larger than the average companies going public for the first time in the US or the UK. The level of IPO underpricing in Germany, in contrast, has not been fundamentally different from that in other countries. The picture for venture capital financing is not much different from that provided by IPOs in Germany. For a long time venture capital financing was hardly significant, particularly as a source of early stage financing. The unprecedented boom on the Neuer Markt between 1997 and 2000, when many small venture capital financed firms entered the market, provides a striking contrast to the preceding era. However, by US standards, the levels of both IPO and venture capital activities remained rather low even in this boom phase. The extent to which recent developments will have a lasting impact on the financing of German firms, the level of IPO activity, and venture capital financing, remains to be seen. At the time of writing, activity has come to a near stand still and the Neuer Markt has just been dissolved. The low number of IPOs and the fairly low volume of VC financing in Germany before the introduction of the Neuer Markt are a striking and much debated phenomenon. Understanding the reasons for these apparent peculiarities is vital to understanding the German financial system. The potential explanations that have been put forward range from differentces in mentality to legal and institutional impediments and the availability of alternative sources of financing. Moreover the recent literature discusses how interest groups may have benefited and influenced the situation. These groups include politicians, unions/workers, managers/controlling-owners of established firms as well as banks. Klassifikation: G10, G24, G14. Revised version forthcoming in "The German Financial System", edited by Jan P. Krahnen and Reinhard H. Schmidt, Oxford University Press.
- Insuring non-verifiable losses (2011)
- Insurance contracts are often complex and difficult to verify outside the insurance relation. We show that standard one-period insurance policies with an upper limit and a deductible are the optimal incentive-compatible contracts in a competitive market with repeated interaction. Optimal group insurance policies involve a joint upper limit but individual deductibles and insurance brokers can play a role implementing such contracts for the group of clients. Our model provides new insights and predictions about the determinants of insurance.
- Disclosure, transparency, and market discipline (2011)
- The aim of this paper is to examine what has been the role of information provision to the market throughout the crisis. We consider two main sources of information to the market, financial statements and information provided by credit rating agencies. We examine how these sources of information work and the effectiveness of their disclosure process during the crisis. Contrary to the commonly held view, fair value accounting did not have a major impact on the crisis development and severity. However, the structure and lack of accountability of credit rating agencies had a profound impact on their incentives, which may have jeopardized the accuracy of the whole rating process. We claim that the crisis experience has changed the way we think about information as well as market discipline and discuss policy implications and proposals for regulation. JEL Classification: G01, G24, G28, M41, M48 Keywords: Mark-to-Market, Fair-Value Accounting, Credit Rating Agencies, Financial Crisis, Regulation, Financial Institutions, Banks
- On the role of the liquidity premium in the regulation of insurers (2011)
- Prepared by Christian Laux, Vienna University of Economics and Business & Center for Financial Studies (CFS) for the “Workshop on Liquidity Premium in Solvency II: Conceptual and Measurement Issues,” DNB Amsterdam, March 18, 2011. The insurance industry and the Committee of European Insurance and Occupational Pension Supervisors (CEIOPS) propose to add a liquidity premium to the risk-free rate when discounting liabilities in times of financial turmoil. The objective is to counterbalance adverse effects on regulatory capital due to a decrease in asset values caused by illiquidity in a crisis. As I argue in this note, although the motive might be sensible, the proposal to add a liquidity premium when discounting liabilities is not the right approach to tackle the problem.