Pragmatic Economics and Sustainable Finance

Building solutions for a better world, by Rodrigo Zeidan

Financial Management

Today I am developing, with Michel Fleuriet and Thomas Lindner, a general theory of working capital management. This theory has been informed by my consulting in the area. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive explanation of how working capital requirements are related to trade credit, the cash conversion cycle, and shareholder value. Throughout my career, I have investigated derivatives mishaps and other pressing issues in corporate finance. Here, you can find my most recent published research in corporate finance and financial management.

Cash conversion cycle and value-enhancing operations: Theory and evidence for a free lunch – Journal of Corporate Finance, 2017.

The empirical literature shows that firms overinvest in working capital and that these investments are economically inefficient. We decompose working capital investments in the cash conversion cycle and growth effects in the presence of x-inefficiency. We predict that reductions in the cash conversion cycle should increase shareholder value. Direct evidence follows from a case study of a listed company in Brazil, MRV. Changes in operations reduced CCC from 508 days in 2012 to 351 days in 2015, decreasing working capital requirements by US $1.02 billion. Indirect evidence comes from (1) a synthetic control comparing MRV’s free cash flow to equity to its direct and distant competitors; (2) an event study of share prices, and (3) a dynamic cash flow estimation using Tobin’s Q as the dependent variable. Outcomes suggest that CCC management, controlling for effects on operating margins, result in higher stock prices and profitability, and increased cash flow. The theoretical framework and results reconcile the literature and provide a rationale for the overinvestment and the inefficiency of working capital investments.

Do ultimate owners follow the pecking order theory? – The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, 2017.

Previous studies that have tested the pecking order theory have been inconclusive. In this paper, we use unique survey results for private Brazilian firms in order to investigate firms’ choice of capital structure. We document that ultimate owners of privately owned firms follow the pecking order theory, even in presence of subsidized loans. We also show that whether a firm is debt constrained or unconstrained does not affect this finding.

Valuation and Sustainability – Sustainable Development, 2015.

In this paper we present the Sustainability Delta model as an improvement over existing environmental, social and governance (ESG) methodologies used in firm valuation. Starting from the question of how banks should integrate sustainability criteria into their valuation methods, we find that ESG methodologies currently do not consider the potential to generate higher future revenues due to sustainable innovations, and also lack consideration of different scenarios such as higher standards in legislation or consumer demand. To address these shortcomings the Sustainability Delta model is developed. Simulation results on the sugar manufacturing industry in Brazil demonstrate that by using the Sustainability Delta we estimate an improved firm value of 1.24%. The Sustainability Delta would allow for a more accurate valuation of firms as well as for the more effective allocation of capital for investors, which should bring market pressure to improve sustainability practices and thus contribute to sustainable development

Firm, market and top management antecedents of speculation – Journal of Multinational Financial Management, 2015.

In this paper, we explore the corporate governance traits of companies that posted hefty losses related to derivatives trading in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Using concepts from agency theory, cognitive decision making and institutional theory we theorize on potential facilitators of trading losses. Our sample is comprised of 346 companies from 10 international markets, of which 49 companies (and a subsample of 14 distressed companies) lost an aggregate of US$18.9 billion in derivatives. An event study shows that most companies experience substantial and long-term abnormal returns following these incidents. The results of a probit model indicate that the lack of a formal hedging policy, weak monitoring of the top management, overconfidence in technical trends, hubris and remuneration contribute to the mismanagement of hedging policies. Our study contributes to the existing financial risk management literature by identifying antecedents of derivatives losses.

O Modelo Dinâmico de Gestão Financeira – 2016

Textbook on Financial Management, written in Portuguese.

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