Topic: Investing in Influence: Investors, Portfolio Firms, and Political Giving
Speaker: Matilde Bombardini, Associate Professor, University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business
Time: 10:00am-11:30pm, October 12 (Beijing Time)
Campaign finance laws aim to limit an individual’s influence over the political process. We show that corporate ownership may be an important mechanism by which institutional investors circumvent such constraints and amplify their influence. Using data on the political giving and ownership of all 13-F investors between 1980 and 2016, we show that the probability that a firm’s Political Action Committee (PAC) donates to a politician supported by an investor’s PAC nearly doubles after the investor acquires a large stake, and that it increases five-fold when the investor obtains a board seat. This increase in similarity of political giving coincides with the election cycle the acquisition takes place in, and is not driven by selection into specific politically strategic acquisitions, as convergence in political behavior is observed even for exogenously determined acquisitions caused by stock index inclusions. The relationship is stronger for private funds, and those with high partisanship, suggesting the relationship is driven by investor preferences rather than strategic concerns. Finally, we show that portfolio firms’ PAC expenditure experiences a relatively large shift at the acquisition date relative to past giving, whereas no such pattern is observed for institutional investors. We argue that these findings are best explained by investors influencing portfolio firm giving, suggesting that PAC giving may be another means by which influential shareholders impact corporate decision-making, in a manner that amplifies investors’ political voice. Journal of Economics.
About the speaker:
Dr. Matilde Bombardini is Associate Professor in the Business and Public Policy group at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, a fellow of the National Bureau for Economic Research, a fellow of the Institutions, Organizations and Growth group at the Becker Friedman Institute and co-editor of the Journal of International Economics. Her research focuses on political economy and international trade. Dr. Bombardini has studied the organization of interest groups and the behaviour of lobbyists in the US, and has linked the pattern of international trade to the inequality of education outcomes within countries, as well as the effect of international trade on pollution and infant mortality in China and the use of corporate philanthropy as a political tool. Bombardini is a native of Italy where she obtained her undergraduate degree at the University of Bologna. She obtained her PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005 and was a professor in the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia between 2005 and 2020. She is the recipient of the 2015 Bank of Canada Governor’s Award, the 2017 Killam Research Prize, the 2012 Young Researcher Prize from the Canadian Women Economists Network/Réseau de Femmes Économistes (CWEN/RFÉ) and the 2012 Harry Johnson Prize for best paper in the Canadian