Financial markets

Enrique Sentana, 16 September 2016

Determining which risks are worth taking is one of the key problems facing financial market participants. Central to this is the time-varying nature of volatility. This column examines the Chicago Board Options Exchange volatility index, VIX, which has become the standard measure of volatility risk. Complementary approaches to pricing VIX derivatives are considered, and the tumultuous economy since the Great Recession is used to assess the empirical performance of the different models.

Alex Edmans, Cifford Holderness, 15 September 2016

The separation of ownership and control for public firms may lead to fully dispersed ownership where no shareholder has an incentive to engage in governance. This column argues that blockholders (owners of large stakes) play a critical role in long-term governance, partly through a credible threat to sell their stakes. This threat is undermined by well-intentioned policy moves to create holding-period incentives and requirements. If they succeed, these policies will make exit less likely and blockholders will lose a method to discipline managers.

Daniel Cavagnaro, Berk Sensoy, Yingdi Wang, Michael Weisbach, 10 September 2016

Investment officers are often the highest-paid individuals in institutions such as pension funds and foundations, because of the size and importance of the decisions they make. This column argues that successful investment officers earn their pay, because they make returns that can't be explained by luck alone. Therefore, institutional investors might benefit from investing in high-quality investment officers.

Janine Aron, John Muellbauer, 31 August 2016

Mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures have serious implications, not just for the households affected, but for the financial stability of the economy. The solvency of the mortgage lenders is affected, and their ability to extend credit. This column identifies three key drivers of delinquency and foreclosure rates in the UK – the debt service ratio, the proportion of homes in negative equity, and the unemployment rate – and compares the rates with those in the US. It also discusses the data constraints that have hindered previous analyses.

Ina Simonovska, Joel David, 26 August 2016

The ‘excess co-movement puzzle’ in financial markets refers to the correlation of asset returns beyond what could be expected based on the common movements in fundamentals. Using international data, this column links excess co-movement in firm-level stock returns to the correlated beliefs of sophisticated investors. Co-movement is largely explained by investors’ reliance on common information – in other words, their lack of firm-specific information. This gives rise, in part, to the higher degree of aggregate market-wide volatility.

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