taylor begley | assistant professor of finance

CV [pdf]
tbegley[at]wustl[dot]edu
Olin Business School
Washington University in St. Louis

research interests

financial intermediation and regulation, mortgage markets, corporate finance, financial contracting, information economics.

published/forthcoming papers

Design of Financial Securities: Empirical Evidence From Private-label RMBS Deals. [Review of Financial Studies, 2017]
(with Amiyatosh Purnanandam)
[ssrn version]

  • We study the key drivers of security design in the residential mortgage-backed security (RMBS) market during the run-up to the subprime mortgage crisis. We show that deals with a higher level of equity tranche have a significantly lower delinquency rate that cannot be explained away by the underlying loan pool's observable credit risk factors. The effect is concentrated within pools with a higher likelihood of asymmetric information between deal sponsors and potential buyers of the securities. Further, securities that are sold from high-equity-tranche deals command higher prices conditional on their credit ratings. Overall our results show that the goal of security design in this market was not only to exploit regulatory arbitrage, but also to mitigate information frictions that were pervasive in this market.

The Strategic Underreporting of Bank Risk. [Review of Financial Studies, 2017]
(with Amiyatosh Purnanandam and KC Zheng)
[ssrn version]

  • We show that banks significantly under-report the risk in their trading book when they have lower equity capital. Specifically, a decrease in a bank's equity capital results in substantially more violations of its self-reported risk levels in the following quarter. The under-reporting is especially high during the critical periods of high systemic risk and for banks with larger trading operations. We exploit a discontinuity in the expected benefit of under-reporting present in Basel regulations to provide further support for a causal link between capital-saving incentives and under-reporting. Overall, we show that banks' self-reported risk measures become least informative precisely when they matter the most.

Color and Credit: Race, Regulation, and the Quality of Financial Services. [Journal of Financial Economics, forthcoming]
(with Amiyatosh Purnanandam)

  • The incidence of mis-selling, fraud, and poor customer service by retail banks is significantly higher in areas with higher proportions of poor and minority borrowers and in areas where government regulation promotes an increased quantity of lending. Specifically, low-to-moderate-income (LMI) areas targeted by the Community Reinvestment Act have significantly worse outcomes, and this effect is larger for LMI areas with a high-minority population share. The results highlight an unintended adverse consequence of such quantity-focused regulations on the quality of credit to lower-income and minority customers.

working papers

Small bank lending in the era of fintech and shadow banking: a sideshow? [Revise and Resubmit]
(with Kandarp Srinivasan)

  • We show that the steep decline in traditional bank mortgage lending after the crisis was primarily driven by a widespread withdrawal by the four largest U.S. banks (Big4). In contrast, small banks maintain their aggregate share in this market despite rapid nonbank growth throughout the country. A strong, county-level substitution for the retreating Big4 explains small banks' enduring importance: they were four (seven) times more responsive than shadow banks (fintech lenders) in local markets. We show that small banks' relative advantage in balance-sheet financing of loans below the jumbo size limit plays a prominent role in our results.

Disaster Lending: "Fair" Prices, but "Unfair" Access. [Revise and Resubmit]
(with Umit Gurun, Amiyatosh Purnanandam, and Daniel Weagley)

  • We find the Small Business Administration's disaster-relief home loan program denies significantly more loans in areas with larger shares of minorities, subprime borrowers, and higher income inequality. We find that risk-insensitive loan pricing -- a feature present in many regulated and government-run lending programs -- is a primary driver of these disparities in access to credit. We show the differences in denial rates are disproportionately high compared to counterfactual both private-market and government-insured risk-sensitive loan pricing programs. Thus, despite ensuring "fair" prices, the use of risk-insensitive pricing may lead to "unfair" access to credit.

  • We find that firms’ financial resources play an important role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. We study nursing homes – whose residents account for over one-third of all U.S. COVID-19 deaths – at a time when investment in risk mitigation was costly and critical. We find that facilities with less liquidity and those experiencing more severe cash flow shocks had a higher likelihood of COVID-19 reaching residents. These patterns are strongest for financially constrained facilities. We also find higher rates of transmission between staff and residents within liquidity-constrained facilities, which is consistent with these facilities creating a less-effective barrier between groups.

  • We study labor re-allocation during the 2000s house price boom using detailed career-path data for 32 million workers. We show large flows of workers into realty from virtually all parts of the skill, wage, and education spectrums, especially following instances of strong local house price growth. Those drawn in during the peak ended up in careers paying substantially less than non-entrants that were working in the same occupation and MSA. Comparing within entrants, those in areas with higher non-fundamental house price growth end up in significantly lower-paying occupations. These disparities persist through the end of our sample in 2017.

The importance of financial experience for first-time homeowners
(with Radhakrishnan Gopalan, Naser Hamdi, and Rodrigo Moser)

  • We use individual-level data to quantify the effect of getting a mortgage on non-mortgage credit outcomes. We use a regression discontinuity design and find that individuals that transition to homeownership increase their credit card and auto balances by $8,300 and $14,800, suggesting a debt spillover effect from home ownership. This increase in debt is equivalent to 13% of the average mortgage loan, and we provide evidence that it is mainly driven by a change in credit demand. We find that this increase in debt is driven by individuals with higher financial experience, while their overall ability to service their debt remains unchanged. In contrast, low-experience individuals do not increase their debt, but are relatively more likely to experience a deterioration in their financial health. Taken together, these results highlight the role financial experience plays in managing the debt burden associated to a new home.

  • This paper examines how good borrowers use the design of performance sensitive debt contracts to alleviate financial constraints. I show that borrowers use a convex pricing grid (i.e., a contract where the increase in the loan spread following a decline in performance exceeds the decrease in the spread following a performance improvement) to signal their unobservable creditworthiness and receive better bank loan terms. I find that constrained firms that use convex pricing grids receive loans that are 21-28% larger with a spread that is 31-37 basis points lower than observationally similar borrowers that use fixed spread loans. Consistent with the notion that a costly signal should positively correlate with future financial health, I find that constrained borrowers that use a loan with a convex pricing grid are one third less likely to experience financial distress during the term of their loans.