Investment in financial literacy, social security and portfolio choice
- 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.
Going public - going private : the case of VC-backed firms
- We investigate the decisions of listed firms to go private once again. We start by revealing that while a significant number of firms which go public is VC-backed, an overproportional share of these VC-backed firms go private later on (they stay on the exchange for an average of 8.5 years). We interpret this very robust pattern such that IPOs of VC-backed firms are to a large extent a temporary rather than a permanent feature of the corporate governance of these firms. We investigate various potential hypotheses why VCs actually seem to be able to bring marginal firms to the exchange by relating the going-private decisions to various characteristics of the IPO market as well as to VC characteristics. We find strong support for the certification ability of VCs: more experienced and reputable VCs are more able to bring marginal firms to public exchanges via an IPOs. These marginal firms backed-by more reputable and experienced VCs are more likely to go private later on. Hence, our analysis suggests that IPOs backed by experienced VCs are most likely to be a temporary rather than the final stage in the life of the portfolio firm. We find no support that reputable VCs underprice their IPO-exits more implying that they have no need to leave more money on the table to take the marginal firms public.
Add-on pricing in retail financial markets and the fallacies of consumer education
- This paper explores consequences of consumer education on prices and welfare in retail financial markets when some consumers are naive about shrouded add-on prices and firms try to exploit it. Allowing for different information and pricing strategies we show that education is unlikely to push firms to disclose prices towards all consumers, which would be socially efficient. Instead, price discrimination emerges as a new equilibrium. Further, due to a feedback on prices, education that is good for consumers who become sophisticated may be bad for consumers who stay naive and even for the group of all consumers as a whole