Theses Doctoral

Essays on Institutional Investors in Corporate Bond Markets

Zheng, Minchen

This dissertation focuses on institutional investors in corporate bond markets and their impacts on the underlying corporate bonds. The dissertation is composed of three chapters. The first chapter studies how information networks of corporate bond mutual funds may be constructed. It highlights how information flow between corporate bond mutual funds affects fund performance, herding behaviors, and the underlying corporate bond market. By examining the trading behavior of corporate bond mutual funds, I show that bond funds in more central positions of a trading network have an informational advantage that results in 0.33% higher future fund risk-adjusted return. This positive relationship becomes stronger during periods of high market uncertainty and for bond funds with more liquid assets as they can respond to the information signal with a lower asset reallocation cost. I further show that manager turnover, ranking pressure, and fund flow fluctuation drive within-fund time varying changes in network centrality.
The second chapter exploits the influence of information networks of corporate bond mutual funds on their underlying corporate bonds. I show that corporate bonds owned by highly network-central bond funds increase underlying liquidity, leading to a 3.5% decrease in future bid/ask spreads and a lower Amihud illiquidity measure. This is hypothesized to occur due to increased information efficiency, which allows for more bond specific information to be reflected in the price, and intensified herding behavior. Moreover, I construct a network to represent herding behavior by following the same trades across quarters. A 0.3% decrease in risk-adjusted fund return is found for bond funds that have the strongest herding behavior.
The third chapter studies how corporate bond exchange-traded funds (ETF) impact the underlying corporate bond return comovement and how it relates to trading and arbitrage activities of corporate bond ETFs. The literature is silence about the effect of corporate bond ETFs on the comovement of underlying bond securities. This chapter aims to fill this gap by providing the first empirical evidence of bond return comovement driven by bond ETFs ownership. I find that bond ownership by corporate bond ETFs leads to higher bond return comovement, an increase of 0.26 in the beta of corporate bond return with respect to the aggregate bond portfolio. In contrast, bond ownership by other traditional institutional investors in the corporate bond market like bond mutual funds and insurance companies do not contribute to corporate bond return comovement. Furthermore, this chapter highlights that return comovement is driven by corporate bond ETFs’ creation and redemption activities.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Jiang, Wei
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 28, 2019