Research

“In God we trust; all others must bring data.”   W. Edwards Deming.

For codes to replicate the published papers, please visit the publications page or the original online paper.


Working Papers:

Jan Ericsson, Babak Lotfaliei, 2018, "Variance Risk Premium and Investment Uncertainty", resubmit requested for Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis (JFQA), July (First version: July 2014) 
  • Abstract:
This article documents that the variance risk premium in asset returns decreases firms' investment. In our model, the premium increases the value of the real option to postpone an irreversible investment. In our data, we find support for a negative relationship between variance risk premia and firms' rate of investment. The relation is more important for investment-grade firms, which tend to have low historical variance but relatively high variance risk premia. Controlling for this premium allows us to reconcile an otherwise surprising pattern across credit ratings: investment rates are higher for speculative grade than investment grade firms.


Western Finance Association 2018, SDSU Finance Seminar, California Corporate Finance Conference 2017, Northern finance Association 2017, Global Finance Conference 2016, 
Financial Management Association (FMA) 2016 meeting, Finance Forum (Barcelona) 2017

Babak Lotfaliei, and Clark Lundberg, 2019, "Reevaluating the Trade-off Theory of Capital Structure: Evidence from Zero-leverage Firms", October (First version: Dec 2016) 
  • Abstract:
We empirically evaluate extensions to the trade-off theory of capital structure featuring a real option on debt issuance in a zero-leverage environment. Controlling for alternative explanations of zero-leverage behavior, we find considerable evidence in support of the extended trade-off theory and no evidence against it. We validate our empirical approach via simulations under the real option mechanism and under an alternative financially constrained mechanism. The simulations show that our empirical findings are not consistent with zero-leverage behavior driven exclusively by financial constraints, but they are consistent with the real-option mechanism.


Babak Lotfaliei, and Mahmood Mohebshahedin, 2019, "Capital Structure of Closed-End Funds: a Shadow Cost of Leverage Constraint", August (First version: Dec 2018) 
  • Abstract:
This paper examines the capital structure of the closed-end funds, under the leverage regulatory constraint (Investment Company Act of 1940). The act imposes a 33 percent leverage constraint on the closed-end funds. We theoretically model the funds’ optimal leverage under the constraint, which produces leverage close empirical observations. Due to the constraint, we find that closed-end funds lose, on average, 1.59 percent of their value from potential net debt benefits ($49.8 billion total in our sample). The loss penalizes funds with low-risk investments four times more than otherwise risky funds; risky funds endogenously borrow with caution regardless of the constraint..

 Preliminary version

Michael Ferguson, Babak Lotfaliei, and Timothy Trombley2019, "Dynamic Capital Structure, Asset Pricing Factors, and the CAPM", August (First version: Aug 2017) 
  • Abstract:
We show that the Fama-French factors (SMB and HML) are economically and statistically significant in asset-pricing tests, even within a single-factor CAPM economy. In this CAPM economy, we simulate firms that dynamically pursue optimal capital structure using merely classic tradeoff theory. The Fama-French factors are significant only when equity-based indexes represent the market portfolio. When we replace the equity-based market index with the true market index measuring systematic shocks to the economy’s firms, the factors are not significant. Hence, financing frictions exacerbate risk-measurement errors associated with both leverage and using a levered market index, which suffice to produce Fama-French factors.

 Preliminary version

Eastern Finance Association 2019, SDSU Finance Seminar 

Alibeiki, Hedayat, and Babak Lotfaliei, 2019, "To Expand And To Abandon: Real Options Under Asset Variance Risk Premium", August 
  • Abstract:
This paper focuses on variance risk premium in the returns of a project and its impacts on the real options to expand or to abandon the project. We fi.nd that the variance risk premium increases the real option value to expand and to abandon a project. Hence, the variance premium delays both abandoning or expanding the project. Moreover, modeling these options enables us to extend them to multi-stage decisions, which deal with real options conditional on exercising other options in earlier stages. As an example, we consider when there is an abandonment option attached to an expansion project. We document that the variance premium still delays expanding the project, but the abandonment moderates the premium's delay effect on the expansion. This result is reminiscence of how our framework facilitates modeling other multi-stage real option problems when fi.rms face the variance risk premium.

 Preliminary version

Amir Akbari, Babak Lotfaliei, 2015, "International Correlation Premium in the Stock Markets", Working paper, December, San Diego State University 
  • Abstract:
Historically, correlations among international markets have doubled in the past 30 years from 40% to 80%. An increasing correlation implies that the diversification benefits from investing in different countries decrease. This phenomenon is analogical to observed correlation among stocks in the US stock market, but in a larger scale. There is evidence on priced correlation risk among the stocks in the US market. This project extends the correlation-risk idea to the international markets: Did markets consider the increasing trend of the correlation and allocate a premium to that? How big is the correlation risk premium among the international markets? If correlation has priced risk, risk-adjusted (RA) correlation is expected to be larger than historical correlation; market has predicted that correlation is risky and already has taken that into account. Otherwise, RA correlation is equal to historical correlation if correlation is not risky. In addition to portfolio management implications, the outcome of this project has implications for pricing index and stock options worldwide.

For more information please see my CV.