Essays on liquidity risk, credit market contagion, and corporate cash holdings

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Ilerisoy, Mahmut
University of Iowa
publicabstract; Ambiguity Aversion; Corporate Cash Holdings; Credit Markets; Financial Contagion; Hedge Funds; Liquidity risk; Business Administration, Management, and Operations
thesis / dissertation description
This thesis consists of three chapters and investigates the issues related to liquidity risk, credit market contagion, and corporate cash holdings. The first chapter is coauthored work with Professor Jay Sa-Aadu and Associate Professor Ashish Tiwari and is titled ‘Market Liquidity, Funding Liquidity, and Hedge Fund Performance.’ The second chapter is sole-authored and is titled ‘Credit Market Contagion and Liquidity Shocks.’ The third chapter is coauthored with Steven Savoy and titled ‘Ambiguity Aversion and Corporate Cash Holdings.’The first chapter examines the interaction between hedge funds’ performance and their market liquidity risk and funding liquidity risk. Using a 2-state Markov regime switching model we identify regimes with low and high market-wide liquidity. While funds with high market liquidity risk exposures earn a premium in the high liquidity regime, this premium vanishes in the low liquidity states. Moreover, funding liquidity risk, measured by the sensitivity of a hedge fund’s return to the Treasury-Eurodollar (TED) spread, is an important determinant of fund performance. Hedge funds with high loadings on the TED spread underperform low-loading funds by about 0.49% (10.98%) annually in the high (low) liquidity regime, during 1994-2012.The second chapter provides evidence on credit market contagion using CDS index data and identifies the channels through which contagion propagates in credit markets. The results show that funding liquidity and market liquidity are significant channels of contagion during periods with widening credit spreads and adverse liquidity shocks. These results provide support for the theoretical model proposed by Brunnermeier and Pedersen (2009) according to which negative liquidity spirals can lead to contagion across various asset classes. Furthermore, during periods with tightening credit spreads and positive liquidity shocks, the results indicate that a prime broker index and a bank index are important channels contributing to co-movement in credit spreads. This suggests that financial intermediaries play an important role in spreading market rallies across credit markets.The third chapter investigates the link between investors’ ambiguity aversion and precautionary corporate cash holdings. Investors’ ambiguity aversion is measured by the proportion of individual investors in a firm’s investor base who are hypothesized to be more ambiguity averse compared to institutional investors. We show that the value of cash holdings is negatively associated with the extent of ambiguity aversion in a firm’s shareholder base for firms that are financially constrained. Our results also show that financially constrained firms with a higher proportion of ambiguity averse investors hold less cash. These results provide support for models in which ambiguity averse investors dislike the cash holdings of firms, that are held for precautionary reasons to fund long term projects, given that the returns on long term projects are ambiguous.