Daily Academic Alpha: High Lobby Efforts Equal Alpha?

Daily Academic Alpha: High Lobby Efforts Equal Alpha?

May 26, 2015 Research Insights
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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2017)

Corporate Lobbying and Firm Performance

Corporate lobbying activities are designed to influence legislators, regulators and courts, presumably to encourage favorable policies and/or outcomes. In dollar terms, corporate lobbying expenditures are typically one or even two orders of magnitude larger than spending by Political Action Committees (PAC), and, unlike PAC donations, lobbying amounts are direct corporate expenditures. We use data made available by the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to examine this more pervasive form of corporate political activity. We find that, on average, lobbying is positively related to accounting and market measures of financial performance. These results are robust across a number of empirical specifications. We also report market performance evidence using a portfolio approach. We find that portfolios of firms with the highest lobbying intensities significantly outperform their benchmarks in the three years following portfolio formation.

The Quality of Accounting Information in Politically Connected Firms

We document that the quality of earnings reported by politically connected firms is significantly poorer than that of similar non-connected companies. Our results are not due to firms with ex-ante poor earnings quality establishing connections more often. Instead, our results suggest that, because of a lesser need to respond to market pressures to increase the quality of information, connected companies can afford disclosing lower quality accounting information. In particular, lower quality reported earnings is associated with a higher cost of debt only for the non-politically connected firms in the sample.


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Definitions of common statistics used in our analysis are available here (towards the bottom)




About the Author

Wesley R. Gray, Ph.D.

After serving as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, Dr. Gray earned a PhD, and worked as a finance professor at Drexel University. Dr. Gray’s interest in bridging the research gap between academia and industry led him to found Alpha Architect, an asset management that delivers affordable active exposures for tax-sensitive investors. Dr. Gray has published four books and a number of academic articles. Wes is a regular contributor to multiple industry outlets, to include the following: Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ETF.com, and the CFA Institute. Dr. Gray earned an MBA and a PhD in finance from the University of Chicago and graduated magna cum laude with a BS from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.