Chen Lin
Prof. Chen LIN
Chair of Finance
Stelux Professor in Finance
Associate Vice-President
Associate Dean (Research and Knowledge Exchange)
Director, Centre for Financial Innovation and Development
DBA Programme Director

3917 7793

KK 1015

The Telegraph and Modern Banking Development, 1881-1936

The telegraph was introduced to China in the late 19th century, a time when China also saw the rise of modern banks. Based on this historical context, this paper documents the importance of information technology in banking development. We construct a data set on the distributions of telegraph stations and banks across 287 prefectures between 1881 and 1936. The results show that the telegraph significantly expanded banks’ branch networks in terms of both number and geographic scope. The effect of the telegraph remains robust when we instrument it using proximity to the early military telegraph trunk.



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Geographic Diversification and Banks’ Funding Costs

We assess the impact of geographic diversification on a bank’s costs of interest-bearing liabilities. We employ a new identification strategy and discover that geographic expansion across U.S. states lowered funding costs. Consistent with expansion facilitating risk diversification, we find that (1) funding costs fall more when banks expand into states whose economies are less correlated with the banks’ state and (2) geographic diversification reduces the costs of uninsured, but not insured, deposits. Consistent with expansion intensifying agency frictions, which puts upward pressures on funding costs, we discover that geographic diversification reduces the costs of interest-bearing liabilities more in better-monitored and better-run banks.

Product Price Risk and Liquidity Management: Evidence from the Electricity Industry

Product price risk is a potentially important factor for firms’ liquidity management. A natural place to evaluate the impact of this risk on liquidity management is the electricity industry, because producing firms face substantial price volatility in wholesale markets. Empirically, higher volatility of electricity prices leads to an increase in cash holdings, and this effect is robust to instrumenting for price risk using weather volatility. Cash increases more with price risk in firms using inflexible production technologies and those that cannot easily hedge electricity prices, indicating that operating flexibility and hedging are substitutes for liquidity management.

Communication within Banking Organizations and Small Business Lending

We investigate how communication within banks affects small business lending. Using travel times between a bank’s headquarters and its branches to proxy for the costs of communicating soft information, we exploit shocks to these travel times—the introduction of new airline routes—to evaluate the impact of within-bank communication costs on small business loans. We find that reducing headquarters-branch travel time boosts small business lending in the branch’s county. Several extensions suggest that new airline routes facilitate in-person communications that boost small-firm lending.



Bank Networks and Acquisitions

Does the predeal geographic overlap of the branches of two banks affect the probability that they merge, postannouncement stock returns, and postmerger performance? We compile information on U.S. bank acquisitions from 1984 through 2016, construct several measures of network overlap, and design and implement a new identification strategy. We find that greater predeal network overlap (1) increases the likelihood that two banks merge; (2) boosts the cumulative abnormal returns of the acquirer, target, and combined banks; and (3) reduces employment, boosts revenues, reduces the number of branches, improves loan quality, and expedites executive turnover.

The African Slave Trade and Modern Household Finance

We evaluate the impact of the African slave trade between 1400 and 1900 on modern household finance. Exploiting cross-country and cross-ethnic group differences in the intensity with which people were enslaved and exported from Africa, we find that slave exports during the 1400–1900 period are negatively associated with current measures of household (a) access to financial services, (b) access to credit, (c) use of mobile finance, and (d) trust in financial institutions, suggesting that the slave trade has had an enduring, deleterious effect on household finance.