Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Corporations and Politics

Corporate Politics, Governance, and Value Before and After Citizens United

John Coates
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, December 2012, Pages 657–696

How did corporate politics, governance, and value relate to each other in the S&P 500 before and after Citizens United? In regulated and government-dependent industries, politics is nearly universal, and uncorrelated with shareholder power, agency costs, or value. However, 11 percent of CEOs in 2000 who retired by 2011 obtained political positions after retiring and, in most industries, political activity correlates negatively with measures of shareholder power, positively with signs of agency costs, and negatively with shareholder value. The politics-value relationship interacts with capital expenditures, and is stronger in regressions with firm and time fixed effects, which absorb many omitted variables. After the shock of Citizens United, corporate lobbying and PAC activity jumped, in both frequency and amount, and firms politically active in 2008 had lower value in 2010 than other firms, consistent with politics at least partly causing and not merely correlating with lower value. Overall, the results are inconsistent with politics generally serving shareholder interests, and support proposals to require disclosure of political activity to shareholders.


Corporate Policies of Republican Managers

Irena Hutton, Danling Jiang & Alok Kumar
University of Miami Working Paper, December 2011

This paper examines the relation between the personal political orientation of firm managers and corporate policies. Motivated by the theory of behavioral consistency, we conjecture that Republican managers who are more likely to follow conservative personal ideologies would choose more conservative corporate policies. Consistent with our conjecture, we find that firms with Republican managers have lower levels of corporate debt, lower capital and R&D expenditures, less risky investments, but higher levels of dividend payouts, higher retained earnings, and higher profitability. Republican managers are matched with firms that have conservative political environments, but even among those firms, higher levels of managerial conservatism are associated with more conservative policies. Further, around managerial turnover including CEO deaths, corporate policies become more conservative as managerial conservatism increases. In addition, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, corporate policies of Republican managers become more conservative as aggregate uncertainty increases. Overall, we show that Republican managers maintain and implement less risky and more profitable policies but the choice of lower R&D expenditures may dampen innovation.


Nod to Kevin Lewis


JWO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Thacker said...

I am a little confused why Citizens United, which didn't affect PACs, would specifically affect PAC activity rather than the more direct corporate messaging that it allows.

Perhaps the real "shock" that increased lobbying was not Citizens United, but other issues at around the same time, whether PPACA, proposed fiscal changes, or others.