Welcome

I am an Economist working at the University of Mannheim. My research is funded by the Collaborative Research Center TR 224 "Economic Perspectives on Societal Challenges - Equality of Opportunity, Market Regulation, and Financial Stability" of the German Science Foundation (DFG).
My research focuses broadly on International Economics, Organizational Economics and Macroeconomics. I am particularly interested in studying how firm behavior shapes economic performance. Recently, I became interested in the Economics of the COVID-19 pandemic.

News

I co-organize a workshop on Policies to Cope with the COVID-19 Crisis on 27-28 January 2021 jointly with Harald Fadinger, Sebastian Seitz and Sebastian Siegloch, sponsored by the Collaborative Research Center TR 224 and ZEW. See here for the program.

We updated our study on the role of home office during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. It is accepted for publication by the Journal of Public Economics.

Working Papers

Capital (Mis)allocation and Incentive Misalignment
[Abstract]
with Alexander Schramm and Alexander Schwemmer

Abstract: We investigate the impact of managerial incentives on the allocation of capital in the economy. When short-termist incentives distort managers' private marginal products of capital away from the social marginal product of capital, this can lead to capital misallocation. We first provide empirical evidence towards that mechanism by showing that more short-termist incentives cause investment shifts towards more short-lived assets within firms, reducing the durability of capital stocks. To evaluate the role of incentives for capital (mis)allocation in the US economy, we then build and calibrate a model of firms facing incentive frictions and managers making dynamic investment decisions. Our calibration implies a large pass-through from incentives to investments: wedges in the rates of return across capital goods within firms increase by about 1.1 basis points for each average increase in short-term incentives by 1%.

Human Capitalists, Reallocation and the Global Division of Labor
[Abstract]
Revise and Resubmit, Economic Journal
Awarded the FIW International Economics Conference Best Paper Award 2019, Vienna
and the Walther-Rathenau Best Paper Award
[Link]

Abstract: The rise of top inequality in many industrialized economies during recent decades is well documented but its causes remain controversial. Using data on corporate top earners' equity ownership and labor income, this paper assesses how trade-induced economic reallocation affects their compensation structure. Exploiting the rise of input trade as a source for economic reallocation in the US and the UK, I show that increases in corporate top earners' equity ownership contribute significantly to the rise in top inequality. I document that (i) equity prices increase more for the largest firms, (ii) the value of equity ownership and labor income increase for top earners employed by those firms and (iii) equity ownership responds more elastically than labor income which changes incentives in response to more imports of inputs. Calibrating a heterogeneous-firm model that features incentive contracting confirms the quantitative importance of equity adjustments: economic reallocation impacts on top inequality mostly via changes in equity ownership rather than through changes in labor income. This implies that skill premia (relative wages) fundamentally underestimate the role of globalization in explaining rising top inequality.

Publications

My Home is My Castle - The Benefits of Working from Home During a Pandemic Crisis
with Jean-Victor Alipour and Harald Fadinger
[Abstract], [Media Coverage], [Working Paper Version]
Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 196, 104373, Apr. 2021

Abstract: This paper studies the impact of working from home (WFH) on work relations and public health during the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. Combining administrative data on SARS-CoV-2 infections and short-time work registrations, firm- and employee-level surveys and cell phone tracking data on mobility patterns, we find that working from home effectively shields employees from short-time work, firms from COVID-19 distress and substantially reduces infection risks. Counties with a higher share of teleworkable jobs experience fewer short-time work registrations and less SARS-CoV-2 cases. At the firm level, an exogenous increase in the take-up of WFH reduces the probability of filing for short-time work by up to 72 p.p. and the probability of being very negatively affected by the crisis by up to 75 p.p. Health benefits of WFH appeared mostly in the early stage of the pandemic and became smaller once tight confinement rules were implemented. This effect was driven by lower initial mobility levels in counties with more teleworkable jobs and a subsequent convergence in traffic levels once confinement was implemented. Our results imply that confinement and incentivizing WFH are substitutive policies to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The Costs and Benefits of Home Office during the Covid-19 Pandemic - Evidence from Infections and an Input-Output Model for Germany
with Harald Fadinger
[Abstract], [Media Coverage], [Data and Code],
C.E.P.R. COVID Economics: Vetted and Real-Time Papers, Vol. 9, p. 107-134, Apr. 2020

Abstract: We study the impact of working from home on (i) infection risk in German regions and (ii) output using an input-output (IO) model of the German economy. We find that working from home is very effective in reducing infection risk: regions whose industry structure allows for a larger fraction of work to be done from home experienced much fewer Covid-19 cases and fatalities. Moreover, confinement is significantly more costly in terms of induced output loss in regions where the share of workers who can work from home is lower. When phasing out confinement, home office should be maintained as long as possible, to allow those workers who cannot work from home to go back to work, while keeping infection risk minimal. Finally, systemic industries (with high multipliers and/or high value added per worker) should be given priority, especially those where home office is not possible.

Foreign Competition and the Durability of U.S. Firm Investments
with Philippe Fromenteau and Jan Tscheke
[Abstract], [Media Coverage], [Working Paper Version]
RAND Journal of Economics, Vol. 50(3), p. 532-567, Fall 2019

Abstract: How does the exposure to product market competition affect the investment horizon of firms? When tougher competition reduces future profitability, firms have an incentive to shift investments towards more short-term assets. To study this mechanism empirically, we formulate a stylized theoretical framework of firm investments and derive a within-firm estimator that uses variation across investments with different durabilities. We exploit the Chinese WTO accession as a competition shock for US firms to estimate the effects of product market competition on the composition of firm investments using expenditures across different assets within listed US manufacturing companies. We find that firms that experienced tougher competition shifted their expenditures towards investments with a shorter durability. We find this effect to be larger for firms with lower total factor productivity.

Trade in Tasks and the Organization of Firms
with Dalia Marin and Alexander Tarasov
[Abstract], [Data and Code], [Media Coverage], [Working Paper Version]
European Economic Review, Vol. 107, p. 99-132, Aug. 2018

Abstract: In this paper, we incorporate trade in tasks into Marin and Verdier (2012) to examine how offshoring affects the way firms organize. We show that offshoring of production tasks and of managerial tasks can lead to more decentralized management and to larger executive wages in open economies. We study the predictions of the model with original firm level data and find that offshoring firms are 18% more decentralized than non-offshoring firms. We also find that offshoring of managers increases the level of decentralized management in open industries, but reduces the level of decentralized management in sufficiently closed industries.

Globalization and the Evolution of Corporate Governance
[Abstract], [Data and Code], [Media Coverage], [Working Paper Version]
European Economic Review, Vol. 102, p. 39-61, Feb. 2018.

Abstract: How does globalization affect the balance of power between managers and firm owners? This paper studies the effect of economic integration on governance practices within firms. I propose a theory of endogenous corporate governance investments in industry equilibrium with monopolistic competition. Firms can use investments into better corporate governance as a cheap substitute to performance compensation to mitigate agency problems. International integration alters the demand for managers in the economy such that firms may reduce their corporate governance investments and offer higher performance payments. This globalization-induced deterioration of corporate governance in the economy diminishes the welfare gains from globalization. Using data on governance practices in U.S. manufacturing corporations, I provide empirical evidence that conforms to the model predictions. Firms in industries that experienced substantial trade liberalization between 1990 and 2006 have changed their governance practices allowing for more managerial slack and offered higher equity payments to their CEOs. These effects are particularly large in relatively dynamic industries that are characterized by large exit rates.

Democratization, Contracts and Comparative Advantage
with Felix Samy Soliman
[Abstract], [Working Paper Version]
Economics Letters, Vol. 173, p. 73-77, Dec. 2018.

Abstract: We study how the international spread of democracy shaped the comparative advantage of countries. Using data on the "Third Wave of Democratization" between 1976 and 2000 we find that democratizing countries shifted their exports towards more contract intensive goods that require a larger portion of relationship-specific inputs. This shift is observed on the intensive margin (volumes of industry-level exports) as well as the extensive margin of trade (number of goods a country exports). Using an instrumental variable strategy based on democracy waves, alternative proxy variables and subsamples suggests that the effects of democratization on trade specialization are causal.

Work in Progress

Trade Policy and the Geography of Global Production
with Harald Fadinger and Lei Li

Trade Adjustment and Competition in the Eurozone
with Harald Fadinger

Teaching

Firms in the Aggregate Economy
M.Sc. Economics, University of Mannheim

Organizational Economics
Undergraduate Economics, University of Mannheim

Topics in International Trade
M.Sc. Economics, University of Munich