Essays in Applied Microeconomics

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Essays in Applied Microeconomics

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Title: Essays in Applied Microeconomics
Author: Spamann, Holger
Citation: Spamann, Holger. 2012. Essays in Applied Microeconomics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Chapter 1 develops a model of parallel trading of corporate securities (shares, bonds) and derivatives in which a large trader can sometimes profitably acquire securities and the corporate control rights inherent therein for the sole purpose of reducing the corporation's value and gaining on a net short position in the corporation created through off-setting derivatives. At other times, the large trader profitably takes a net long position in the corporation and exercises its control rights to maximize the corporation's value. This strategy is profitable if and because other market participants cannot observe the large trader's orders and hence cannot predict how the control rights will be exercised. In effect, the large trader is benefitting from trading on private information about payoff uncertainty that the large trader itself creates. This problem is most likely to manifest in transactions that give blocking powers to small minorities, particularly out-of-bankruptcy restructurings and freezeouts, and is bound to become more severe when derivatives trade on an exchange rather than over-the-counter. Chapter 2 investigates in parallel the cross-country determinants of crime and punishment in the largest possible sample of countries with data on homicides, victimization by common crimes (ICVS), incarceration rates, and the death penalty. While models with a small number of plausible covariates predict much of the variation of homicide and incarceration rates between major developed countries, they predict only one seventh of the actual US incarceration rate. Chapter 3 probes into the pervasive correlations between legal origins, modern regulation, and economic outcomes around the world. Where legal origin is exogenous, it is almost perfectly correlated with another set of potentially relevant background variables: the colonial policies of the European powers that spread the "origin" legal systems through the world. The chapter attempts to disentangle these factors by exploiting the imperfect overlap of colonizer and legal origin, and looking at possible channels, such as the structure of the legal system, through which these factors might influence contemporary economic outcomes. It find strong evidence in favor of non-legal colonial explanations for economic growth. For other dependent variables, the results are mixed.
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