Publication Date

2019-04-21

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2019-04-21

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Finance (Business)

Date of Defense

2019-04-02

First Committee Member

George Korniotis

Second Committee Member

Alok Kumar

Third Committee Member

Indraneel Chakraborty

Fourth Committee Member

Gregory Samanez-Larkin

Abstract

This dissertation contains three essays in financial economics. The first essay shows that technology-driven innovations in credit markets have real and social implications. Using data from the largest online, peer-to-peer credit market in the United States, I find that borrowing increases when access to traditional credit is restricted, such as after bank mergers and natural disasters. Consequently, online borrowing moderates the diminished growth in business establishments and the heightened crime growth associated with credit scarcity. A percent increase in online lending offsets about 0.25% (0.22%) of the diminished establishment growth and 0.11% (0.18%) of the rise in crime associated with bank mergers (natural disasters). The effects are concentrated among small enterprises and property-related crimes. The second essay examines the impact of the visual representation of financial information on investors' decisions. Specifically, financial decisions are made in environments that involve color. However, perception of color influences behavior. We show that displaying losses in red reduces risk-taking. Presenting historical stock price paths in red reduces investors' expectations of returns and their propensities to purchase stocks. Salience effects alone do not drive the findings. The effects are not present in colorblind individuals and are muted in China, where red represents prosperity. Color also does not serve as an information-signaling mechanism. Rather, the findings are consistent with red causing "avoidance behavior." Overall, we draw from color psychology and visual science to further understand investors' behavior. The final essay shows that social factors impact households' financial decisions. Specifically, both experimental and field data suggest that exposure to social discrimination affects the risk perceptions and portfolio decisions of U.S. households. Experiments indicate that minorities perceive greater income risk. Minorities with relatively high risk perceptions are 10% less likely to invest. Discrimination further lowers the stock ownership of minorities by 2-5%. White heterosexual males exhibit no relations among perceived income risk, discrimination, and stock ownership. Results from field data support the experimental evidence, indicating that discrimination reduces stock ownership among minorities by 4-8%. The economic significance of socially-amplified risk perceptions is comparable to that of income and education.

Keywords

Financial technology; individual investors; behavioral finance

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