- 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. Revised version forthcoming in "The German Financial System", edited by Jan P. Krahnen and Reinhard H. Schmidt, Oxford University Press.
- Corporate insurance design with multiple risks and moral hazard (2008)
- The paper provides novel insights on the effect of a firm’s risk management objective on the optimal design of risk transfer instruments. I analyze the interrelation between the structure of the optimal insurance contract and the firm’s objective to minimize the required equity it has to hold to accommodate losses in the presence of multiple risks and moral hazard. In contrast to the case of risk aversion and moral hazard, the optimal insurance contract involves a joint deductible on aggregate losses in the present setting.
- The crisis of fair value accounting: making sense of the recent debate (2009)
- The recent financial crisis has led to a vigorous debate about the pros and cons of fair-value accounting (FVA). This debate presents a major challenge for FVA going forward and standard setters’ push to extend FVA into other areas. In this article, we highlight four important issues as an attempt to make sense of the debate. First, much of the controversy results from confusion about what is new and different about FVA. Second, while there are legitimate concerns about marking to market (or pure FVA) in times of financial crisis, it is less clear that these problems apply to FVA as stipulated by the accounting standards, be it IFRS or U.S. GAAP. Third, historical cost accounting (HCA) is unlikely to be the remedy. There are a number of concerns about HCA as well and these problems could be larger than those with FVA. Fourth, although it is difficult to fault the FVA standards per se, implementation issues are a potential concern, especially with respect to litigation. Finally, we identify several avenues for future research. JEL Classification: G14, G15, G30, K22, M41, M42
- Did fair-value accounting contribute to the financial crisis? (2009)
- The recent financial crisis has led to a major debate about fair-value accounting. Many critics have argued that fair-value accounting, often also called mark-to-market accounting, has significantly contributed to the financial crisis or, at least, exacerbated its severity. In this paper, we assess these arguments and examine the role of fair-value accounting in the financial crisis using descriptive data and empirical evidence. Based on our analysis, it is unlikely that fair-value accounting added to the severity of the current financial crisis in a major way. While there may have been downward spirals or asset-fire sales in certain markets, we find little evidence that these effects are the result of fair-value accounting. We also find little support for claims that fair-value accounting leads to excessive write-downs of banks’ assets. If anything, empirical evidence to date points in the opposite direction, that is, towards overvaluation of bank assets.
- Board committees, CEO compensation, and earnings management (2006)
- We analyze the effect of committee formation on how corporate boards perform two main functions: setting CEO pay and overseeing the financial reporting process. The use of performance-based pay schemes induces the CEO to manipulate earnings, which leads to an increased need for board oversight. If the whole board is responsible for both functions, it is inclined to provide the CEO with a compensation scheme that is relatively insensitive to performance in order to reduce the burden of subsequent monitoring. When the functions are separated through the formation of committees, the compensation committee is willing to choose a higher pay-performance sensitivity as the increased cost of oversight is borne by the audit committee. Our model generates predictions relating the board committee structure to the pay-performance sensitivity of CEO compensation, the quality of board oversight, and the level of earnings management.