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    Clean-surplus accounting implies that a firm's stock return can be decomposed into a function of the firm's return on equity, book-to-market equity ratio, and dividend-price ratio. Consequently, the variation in these ratios across firms... more
    Clean-surplus accounting implies that a firm's stock return can be decomposed into a function of the firm's return on equity, book-to-market equity ratio, and dividend-price ratio. Consequently, the variation in these ratios across firms should be indicative of cross-sectional variation in conditional expected returns. Although this prediction can be tested via cross-sectional regressions, the analysis suggests that ordinary-least-squares estimates of the regression coefficients are sensitive to extreme return observations. To address this issue, I develop an outlier-resistant approach for estimating the regression coefficients. The outlier-resistant estimates provide substantial evidence of the predicted cross-sectional relation between accounting ratios and expected returns.
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    A growing empirical literature examines the causes and consequences of public corruption in the United States; however, most of these studies measure corruption using data on federal convictions that is of dubious quality and provenance.... more
    A growing empirical literature examines the causes and consequences of public corruption in the United States; however, most of these studies measure corruption using data on federal convictions that is of dubious quality and provenance.  We document these concerns and describe an alternative data source that provides more reliable and detailed information on corruption prosecutions and convictions by type of state official and even by lead charge.  We employ these data to construct a taxonomy of public corruption that dispels some popular and academic misconceptions.  Our findings call into question the lessons from previous empirical research; earlier studies of the causes and consequences of corruption in the states should be re-examined with more appropriate measures of corruption convictions.
    The Supreme Court has long held that campaign finance regulations are permissible for the purpose of preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption.  Yet the implied hypothesis that campaign finance reforms are effective tools for... more
    The Supreme Court has long held that campaign finance regulations are permissible for the purpose of preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption.  Yet the implied hypothesis that campaign finance reforms are effective tools for combating public corruption has gone essentially untested.  We conduct the first systematic evaluation of the treatment effects of state campaign finance laws on actual corruption rates in the states.  We examine within‐state effects of reforms on both convictions and filings in public corruption cases over the last 25 years; overall, we find no strong or convincing evidence that state campaign finance reforms are in anyway related to public corruption.   Earlier research that employs similar methods also finds little support for the contention that state campaign finance regulations increase public trust and confidence in government.  Together, these results call into question the legal rationale for campaign finance regulations.
    Research using data on convictions for corruption-related crimes from the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of the Department of Justice documents a positive correlation between the amount of corruption in a state and the amount of federal... more
    Research using data on convictions for corruption-related crimes from the Public Integrity Section (PIN) of the Department of Justice documents a positive correlation between the amount of corruption in a state and the amount of federal funds provided to the state for natural disaster relief. We take a closer look at the relation between corruption and disaster assistance using more detailed data on corruption convictions for an expanded time period. Our analysis yields no convincing evidence that federal disaster aid is related to public corruption, and suggests instead that prior findings may be driven by convictions for non-corruption-related crimes that are included in the PIN data series. This potentially has far reaching implications given that the PIN data have been used so extensively in the corruption literature.
    We assess the effect of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws on public corruption in the United States. Specifically, we investigate the impact of switching from a weak to a strong state-level FOIA law on corruption convictions of state... more
    We assess the effect of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws on public corruption in the United States. Specifically, we investigate the impact of switching from a weak to a strong state-level FOIA law on corruption convictions of state and local government officials. The evidence suggests that strengthening FOIA laws has two offsetting effects: reducing corruption and increasing the probability that corrupt acts are detected. The conflation of these two effects led prior work to find little impact of FOIA on corruption. We find that conviction rates approximately double after the switch, which suggests an increase in detection probabilities. However, conviction rates decline from this new elevated level as the time since the switch from weak to strong FOIA increases. This decline is consistent with officials reducing the rate at which they commit corrupt acts by about twenty percent. These changes are more pronounced in states with more intense media coverage, for those that had more substantial changes in their FOIA laws, for local officials, and for more serious crimes. Conviction rates of federal officials, who are not subject to the policy, show no concomitant change.
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    This paper investigates the relation between public corruption and the composition of state government expenditures in the United States. The results suggest that the United States is not immune to the adverse effects of corruption that... more
    This paper investigates the relation between public corruption and the composition of state government expenditures in the United States. The results suggest that the United States is not immune to the adverse effects of corruption that have been documented using country-level expenditure data. In particular, I find that corruption reduces the share of spending devoted to higher education, and increases the share of spending devoted to natural resources and other & unallocable budget items. These findings are robust to the use of political variables to instrument for corruption.
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    We use Markov chain methods to develop a flexible class of discrete stochastic autoregressive volatility (DSARV) models. Our approach to formulating the models is straightforward, and readily accommodates features such as volatility... more
    We use Markov chain methods to develop a flexible class of discrete stochastic autoregressive volatility (DSARV) models. Our approach to formulating the models is straightforward, and readily accommodates features such as volatility asymmetry and time-varying volatility persistence. Moreover, it produces models with a low-dimensional state space, which greatly enhances computational tractability. We illustrate the proposed methodology for both individual stock and stock index returns, and show that simple first and second order DSARV models outperform generalized autoregressive conditional heteroscedasticity and Markov-switching multifractal models in forecasting volatility.
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    We investigate whether public corruption influences entrepreneurial activity in the United States. Because the true underlying level of corruption is inherently unobservable, it cannot be factored into business venturing decisions. We... more
    We investigate whether public corruption influences entrepreneurial activity in the United States. Because the true underlying level of corruption is inherently unobservable, it cannot be factored into business venturing decisions. We hypothesize, therefore, that new business venturing should be related to the expected corruption level. Using a relatively standard model of business venturing that accounts for variation in predicted corruption levels, we find that entrepreneurs launch more businesses in states with higher predicted corruption.
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    We develop regime-switching factor models in which the number of factors determines the operative economic regime. To illustrate the proposed methodology, we analyze the covariance structure of a widely studied set of 25 equity portfolios.
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    Judicial oversight provides an important check on executive and legislative power. Two components of judicial oversight have been identified in the literature: judicial independence and constitutional review. Recent research using... more
    Judicial oversight provides an important check on executive and legislative power. Two components of judicial oversight have been identified in the literature: judicial independence and constitutional review. Recent research using country-level data indicates that the effectiveness of constitutional review is largely determined by the rigidity of the constitution. In this paper, I use state-level data to test whether judicial independence and constitutional rigidity are related to a specific type of abuse of power by government officials: corruption in office. Specifically, I fit negative binomial regressions in which the dependent variable is the number of officials convicted for corrupt acts and the independent variables are (i) measures of judicial independence, such as judges’ remuneration, method of appointment, and term length, along with various controls or (ii) measures of constitutional rigidity, such as legislative majorities required to propose constitutional amendments and provisions for constitutional conventions or constitutional initiatives, along with various controls. I find that, in general, states with higher levels of judicial independence and more rigid constitutions have lower levels of corruption per capita than states with the opposite characteristics.
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