Two Essays on Corporate Finance, Banking, and Political Economy
The dissertation consists of two essays on corporate finance, banking, and political economy. The first chapter studies how partisan-driven views about climate change affect institutional investors’ investment in assets that are exposed to climate risk. The second chapter examines how unexpected political chaos can affect politically active companies in a negative way. In “Climate Change, the Partisan Divide, and Exposure to Climate Risk”, I study how partisan-driven beliefs about climate change affect the distribution of climate risk across mortgage lenders. Using wildfires to capture climate exposure, I find that Republican-leaning lenders are more likely to approve mortgage applications in high wildfire risk areas than Democratic-leaning lenders. This difference in approval rates is only evident among second-lien and jumbo mortgage applications, highlighting how securitization affects risk-taking incentives. Lastly, Republican-leaning lenders originate more climate-exposed second-lien and jumbo loans and thus hold more wildfire risk. The findings suggest that dispersion over climate change beliefs affects how institutional investors hold climate risks, potentially affecting financial stability. In “Downsides of Corporate Political Spending: Evidence from Mass Shootings”, I study the negative impacts of corporate political spending on firm outcomes. Using data from 20 years of mass shootings, I find that when mass shootings take place, companies that primarily donate to pro-gun-rights politicians experience negative stock price reactions and worse operating performance. The negative impacts on companies’ bottom line are stronger when incidents are deadlier. The decline in operating performance reverses within a couple of years. The findings are not driven by firms contributing to Republican politicians. Similarly, using Summary of Deposits data from FDIC, I find that banks primarily donating to pro-gun-rights politicians also experience higher deposit outflows around mass shootings. After incidents, firms significantly reduce corporate political donations to pro-gun-rights politicians. Overall, my findings highlight negative impacts on companies resulting from their political spending being disapproved by stakeholders.