Essays on the impact of institutional investors on market efficiency and corporate policies
In this dissertation, I explore the determinants and implications of the preferences of institutional investors. First, I examine whether institutional investors' preference for local investments is related to informational advantage. Analyzing the equity holdings of a large sample of actively managed mutual funds, I find evidence consistent with the mutual fund industry having a perception that local funds have an informational advantage. However, the portfolio of mutual funds' local holdings does not display significant superior performance relative to the portfolio of their distant holdings. Using a parsimonious model, I hypothesize that the profitability of local informational advantage will be low due to the price impact of trading when there is a relatively large population of local agents who trade on similar private information. Consistent with this hypothesis, I find that funds do earn superior returns on local stocks for which local capital is limited and hence the price impact of local trades is likely to be small. Second, I examine the preferences of institutional investors for firm policies and the relationship between these preferences and firm decisions. I find that institutional investors exhibit systematic differences in their preferences for financial and investment policies. Furthermore, these preferences are related to subsequent changes in the financial and investment policies of the firms they invest. In particular, a firm is more likely to decrease (increase) its leverage ratio if its current leverage is higher (lower) than the preferences of its institutional shareholders. A firm is also more likely to increase (decrease) its investment if its current investment ratio is lower (higher) than the preferences of its institutional shareholders. These findings suggest that the preferences of institutional shareholders are important determinants of corporate policies.