Broadly speaking, Josh White’s research examines how information asymmetries and divergent incentives between managers and capital market participants influence corporate actions and value. Professor White’s research agenda, significantly shaped by his postdoctoral experience as a financial economist with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), focuses on the role of corporate governance, disclosure, and securities regulation in balancing the SEC’s often competing missions of protecting investors and helping companies raise capital. Since these issues occur at the intersection of finance, law, and accounting, Joshua T. White’s research agenda is highly interdisciplinary. Professor Josh White split this page into four sections: 1) Peer Reviewed Publications, 2) Working Papers (papers undergoing peer-review), 3) Law Review Publications, and 4) Policy White Papers (studies that seek to inform regulators and lawmakers on proposed SEC rulemaking).
Peer Reviewed Publications
- “Deregulating innovation capital: The effects of the JOBS Act on biotech startups,” with Craig Lewis. Review of Corporate Finance Studies, 12(2), 2023. [Appendix] [Blog]
- We show that the JOBS Act led to increased innovation and capital formation in biotech startups, with more IPOs and a focus on rare diseases and cancer. This legislation also contributed to greater biopharma R&D investment, resulting in more patents, clinical trials, and improved success rates, ultimately providing economic and societal benefits without compromising financial reporting quality.
- “Labor mobility and antitakeover provisions,” with Aiyesha Dey, Journal of Accounting and Economics, 71(2-3), 101388, 2021. [Appendix] [Blog]
- We find that firms facing increased acquisition threats strengthen their antitakeover provisions (ATPs) to bond with employees and protect their human capital. This response is especially notable when firms have high ex-ante employee mobility and human capital, and prioritize employee relations, ultimately using ATPs to safeguard long-term value creation incentives for employees.
- “Ongoing SEC disclosures by foreign firms,” with Audra Boone and Kathryn Schumann-Foster, The Accounting Review, 96(3), 91-120, 2021. [Appendix 1] [Appendix 2] [Blog]
- This study shows a trend of U.S.-listed foreign firms incorporating in disclosure havens that have fewer event-driven disclosure obligations, leading to fewer SEC Form 6-K filings, yet they experience heightened investor interest and market response for each filing. We argue that the SEC’s one-size-fits-all approach to foreign private issuer disclosure has resulted in an increasing disparity in information flow, despite strong demand for and reaction to disclosures from firms in weaker home market regimes.
- “Qualified residential mortgages and default risk,” with Ioannis Floros, Journal of Banking and Finance, 70, 86-104, 2016. [Appendix]
- The Dodd-Frank Act requires regulators to define a Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) considering factors that result in lower default levels. We show that credit scores and loan-to-value ratios are significant predictors of default and effectively balance reduced default risk with capital access, but are not included in the final QRM equals Qualified Mortgage (QM) definition, impacting residential mortgage securitization, risk retention, and disclosure policies.
- “The effect of institutional ownership on firm transparency and information production,” with Audra Boone, Journal of Financial Economics, 117, 508-533, 2015.
- This study explores the causal effects of institutional ownership on firms’ information and trading environments using a shock to passive index ownership. Higher institutional ownership is linked to increased management disclosure, analyst following, and liquidity, which in turn lowers information asymmetry, improves monitoring, and reduces trading costs.
- “Differences in the information environment prior to seasoned equity offerings under relaxed disclosure regulation,” with Sarah Clinton and Tracie Woidtke, Journal of Accounting and Economics, 58, 59-78, 2014.
- The SEC’s Securities Offering Reform (SOR) of 2005 aimed to improve the information environment and capital formation efficiency by easing disclosure restrictions prior to follow-on equity offerings. The study found that SOR led to increased disclosure before seasoned equity offerings, resulting in a richer information environment with capital formation benefits, including more frequent and accurate management earnings forecasts and more positive stock returns without reversals.
- “Appointments of academic directors,” with Tracie Woidtke, Harold Black, and Robert Schweitzer, Journal of Corporate Finance, 28, 135-151, 2014.
- The study examines the appointment of academics (professors, deans, etc.) to corporate boards of directors and finds that they are typically selected by small- and mid-cap firms expanding their boards. The market reacts favorably to board appointment of academics in science, medicine, and engineering for their expertise, as well as business school administrators for their networks, but shows little reaction to business or law professors, emphasizing the importance of recognizing heterogeneity in the director selection process.
- “Proxy advisory firms and corporate shareholder engagement,” with Aiyesha Dey and Austin Starkweather. [Appendix] [Blog]
- This study investigates the impact of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) on firms’ shareholder engagement using a quasi-natural experiment. The results reveal that treated firms show a significant increase in engagement, leading to improved compensation alignment and economic benefits, illustrating the lasting disciplinary effect of ISS monitoring.
- Presented at 2023 AFA Annual Meeting, 2022 EFA Annual Meeting, 2022 Delaware Weinberg-ECGI Governance Symposium, ISS, Stanford University (GSB), Northwestern University (Kellogg)
- R&R, Review of Financial Studies
- “The saliency of the CEO pay ratio,” with Audra Boone and Austin Starkweather. [Appendix] [Blog]
- We show that the SEC mandated disclosure of the CEO-to-median-employee pay gap can negatively impact employee morale and productivity and views of the CEO, with firms attempting to offset this by adjusting the reported metric and incorporating positive narratives about employee relations. However, there is no evidence that such narrative lessens the adverse employee response.
- Presented at Drexel Corporate Governance Conference, SEC Conference on Financial Market Regulation
- R&R – Review of Finance
- “The role of the media in speculative markets: Evidence from non-fungible tokens (NFTs),” with Sean Wilkoff and Serhat Yildiz.
- Prior work shows that news media can have both positive and negative effects on speculative markets. In the case of NFTs, we show that news coverage increases market activity but also reduces seller returns and volatility. This suggests that the media plays an information gatekeeper role by educating readers on the risks of NFTs.
- Presented at 2023 ASSA Annual Meeting, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 8th ICGS Governance Conf., 6th Shanghai-Edinburgh Fintech Conf., 5th UWA Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Conf., Economics of Financial Technology Conf. 2023.*
- “Human capital disclosure and workforce turnover,” with Aiyesha Dey, Peter Haslag, and Berk Sensoy. [Blog]
We find that human capital disclosures are informative and responsive to changes in the stock and flow of the workforce. Two SEC rule changes encouraged firms to provide more human capital information, especially firms that had previously under-disclosed.
- Presented at 2023 FARS Midyear Meeting, 2023 Bretton Woods Conf., 2022 FMA Annual Meeting, 2022 Hawai’i Accounting Research Conf.
- “The effect of celebrity endorsements on crypto,” with Sean Wilkoff. [Appendix]
- This study examines the relation between celebrity endorsements and cryptocurrency outcomes, finding that such endorsements increase initial coin offering (ICO) initial success but do not guarantee long-term success due to the loss of price informativeness from their substitute role of pre-sales. The study also associates celebrity-endorsed ICOs with higher scam likelihood and identifies properties of social media endorsements leading to scams, emphasizing the need for thorough due diligence before endorsing or investing in digital assets.
- Presented at Cryptocurrency Research Conference 2023, Web3 Financing and Inclusivity Virtual Symposium, 2023 FMA Annual Meeting*
- “Local policy uncertainty and firm disclosure,” with Audra Boone and Y. Abby Kim. [Appendix] [Blog]
- Managers adjust voluntary disclosure in response to local policy uncertainty created by gubernatorial elections, providing more frequent and informative disclosures without reducing real activities. This increase in voluntary disclosure is more pronounced for firms with higher external information demand, more investment, and lower disclosure costs.
- Best paper award finalist: FMA Annual Meeting, FMA European Conference
- Presented at U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, 2017 FMA Annual Meeting, 2018 FMA European Conference
- “Is the bottom line the top priority? A choice model of revenue and earnings guidance.” with Audra Boone, Craig Lewis, and Austin Starkweather.
- Managers have been providing 30% more revenue than earnings forecasts, leading to a joint exploration of the decision to provide or forego revenue and/or earnings guidance. A model that combines a random effects multinomial logit model, instrumental variables, and selection bias correction reveals that predictable guidance policies increase forecast credibility, with the market response driven more by managerial guidance than analyst revisions, and non-guiders switching to guidance when it is the expected choice.
- Presented at Bocconi University, University of Mississippi, University of Wyoming
- “Exogenous changes in analyst coverage prior to seasoned equity offerings,” with Tracie Woidtke.
Law Review Publications
- “Quantified cost-benefit analysis at the SEC,” Administrative Law Review Accord, 2, 53-79, 2016. [Data][Blog]
- The SEC has faced criticism for its economic analyses in rulemaking, with Schwartz and Nelson (2016) arguing that the SEC’s cost estimate for the Conflict Minerals Rule was poorly constructed and inaccurate. In response, I review these criticisms, discusses the SEC’s adherence to its own best practices, and suggests pragmatic approaches to improve economic analysis and quantified cost-benefit analysis in general.
- “The evolving role of economic analysis in SEC rulemaking,” Georgia Law Review, 50, 293-325, 2015. [Data][Blog]
- Following judicial setbacks in the early 2010s, the SEC significantly increased resources allocated to its Division of Economic and Risk Analysis (DERA), which experienced a 70% growth in proportional net program costs and doubled its staff of Ph.D. financial economists. Examining the risk retention rulemaking from the Dodd-Frank Act, I find that new guidance introduced by DERA has led to more rigorous and responsive economic analysis. I emphasize the importance of a well-defined economic baseline in cost-benefit analysis.
Invited Blog Posts
Professor Joshua White has also contributed invited blog posts to the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance Financial Regulation and the Columbia Law School Blue Sky Blog.
- “Human capital disclosure, (with Peter Haslag, Berk Sensoy), Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, January 19, 2022.
- “Corporate liquidity provision and share repurchase programs,” (with Craig Lewis), Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, October 8, 2021.
- “Proxy Advisory Firms and Corporate Shareholder Engagement,” (with Aiyesha Dey, Austin Starkweather), Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, July 8, 2021.
- “Deregulating innovation capital: The effects of the JOBS Act on biotech startups,” (with Craig Lewis), Columbia Law School Blue Sky Blog, September 17, 2020.
- “Spinning the CEO pay ratio disclosure” (with Audra Boone, Austin Starkweather), Columbia Law School Blue Sky Blog, November 25, 2019.
- “Trade secrets protection and antitakeover provisions,” (with Aiesha Dey), Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, June 27, 2018.
- “Political uncertainty and firm disclosure,” (with Audra Boone, Abby Kim), Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, September 1, 2017.
- “Quantified cost-benefit analysis at the SEC,” Columbia Law School Blue Sky Blog, September 13, 2016.
- “SEC disclosures by foreign firms” (with Audra Boone, Kathryn Schumann), Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, November 10, 2015.
- “The evolving role of economic analysis in SEC rulemaking,” Columbia Law School Blue Sky Blog, September 23, 2015.