Three essays in international finance


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Thèse: thèse de doctorat.
Three essays in international finance
Jeanneret A.
Dumas B.
Détails de l'institution
Université de Lausanne, Faculté des hautes études commerciales
HEC Lausanne Quartier UNIL-Dorigny Bâtiment Internef CH - 1015 Lausanne
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Executive Summary
The first essay of this dissertation investigates whether greater exchange rate uncertainty (i.e., variation over time in the exchange rate) fosters or depresses the foreign investment of multinational firms. In addition to the direct capital financing it supplies, foreign investment can be a source of valuable technology and know-how, which can have substantial positive effects on a host country's economic growth. Thus, it is critically important for policy makers and central bankers, among others, to understand how multinationals base their investment decisions on the characteristics of foreign exchange markets. In this essay, I first develop a theoretical framework to improve our knowledge regarding how the aggregate level of foreign investment responds to exchange rate uncertainty when an economy consists of many firms, each of which is making decisions. The analysis predicts a U-shaped effect of exchange rate uncertainty on the total level of foreign investment of the economy. That is, the effect is negative for low levels of uncertainty and positive for higher levels of uncertainty. This pattern emerges because the relationship between exchange rate volatility and 'the probability of investment is negative for firms with low productivity at home (i.e., firms that find it profitable to invest abroad) and the relationship is positive for firms with high productivity at home (i.e., firms that prefer exporting their product). This finding stands in sharp contrast to predictions in the existing literature that consider a single firm's decision to invest in a unique project. The main contribution of this research is to show that the aggregation over many firms produces a U-shaped pattern between exchange rate uncertainty and the probability of investment. Using data from industrialized countries for the period of 1982-2002, this essay offers a comprehensive empirical analysis that provides evidence in support of the theoretical prediction.
In the second essay, I aim to explain the time variation in sovereign credit risk, which captures the risk that a government may be unable to repay its debt. The importance of correctly evaluating such a risk is illustrated by the central role of sovereign debt in previous international lending crises. In addition, sovereign debt is the largest asset class in emerging markets. In this essay, I provide a pricing formula for the evaluation of sovereign credit risk in which the decision to default on sovereign debt is made by the government. The pricing formula explains the variation across time in daily credit spreads - a widely used measure of credit risk - to a degree not offered by existing theoretical and empirical models. I use information on a country's stock market to compute the prevailing sovereign credit spread in that country. The pricing formula explains a substantial fraction of the time variation in daily credit spread changes for Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and Russia for the 1998-2008 period, particularly during the recent subprime crisis. I also show that when a government incentive to default is allowed to depend on current economic conditions, one can best explain the level of credit spreads, especially during the recent period of financial distress.
In the third essay, I show that the risk of sovereign default abroad can produce adverse consequences for the U.S. equity market through a decrease in returns and an increase in volatility. The risk of sovereign default, which is no longer limited to emerging economies, has recently become a major concern for financial markets. While sovereign debt plays an increasing role in today's financial environment, the effects of sovereign credit risk on the U.S. financial markets have been largely ignored in the literature. In this essay, I develop a theoretical framework that explores how the risk of sovereign default abroad helps explain the level and the volatility of U.S. equity returns. The intuition for this effect is that negative economic shocks deteriorate the fiscal situation of foreign governments, thereby increasing the risk of a sovereign default that would trigger a local contraction in economic growth. The increased risk of an economic slowdown abroad amplifies the direct effect of these shocks on the level and the volatility of equity returns in the U.S. through two channels. The first channel involves a decrease in the future earnings of U.S. exporters resulting from unfavorable adjustments to the exchange rate. The second channel involves investors' incentives to rebalance their portfolios toward safer assets, which depresses U.S. equity prices. An empirical estimation of the model with monthly data for the 1994-2008 period provides evidence that the risk of sovereign default abroad generates a strong leverage effect during economic downturns, which helps to substantially explain the level and the volatility of U.S. equity returns.
Création de la notice
16/08/2010 15:51
Dernière modification de la notice
20/08/2019 13:11
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