Empirical Studies on Asset Pricing and Banking in the Euro Area Defended on Thursday, 16 June 2005

European capital markets have changed dramatically over the last couple of years. Due to the harmonization of monetary and policy rules and the elimination of exchange rate risk (through the introduction of the euro) countries in the European Monetary Union (EMU) are becoming more integrated. In this thesis the author tries to determine the consequences of this integration process for asset pricing in the euro area. The most important conclusion, which is a central theme of the thesis, is that the characteristics of financial markets in the euro area have been changing. In other words, investors and researchers cannot base their expectations on the (long) historical evidence of these markets, because the structural changes have a clear impact on the characteristics of the markets. For example, the author shows that industry information has become more valuable in terms of portfolio diversification benefits than country information, especially after the introduction of the euro, which contrasts with the literature of the 90’s. Therefore, investors should change their view in the euro area to a sector-based approach. Most institutional investors, which are the biggest investors in the euro area, have already changed their view into a sector-based approach. As a consequence, euro area portfolio managers are nowadays tracking sector indices instead of country indices. One of the chapters in part II of the thesis shows the implications of that change for the banking sector. Stock returns of big banks have become more correlated, while this is not the case for smaller banks. The author argues that this is not a result of a similar performance or product portfolio of these banks, but is likely the result of the change in perspective of most euro area investors. Next to these topics, the thesis also covers different asset pricing models (Fama and French three factor models for the euro area and an international asset pricing model that provides evidence of a significant risk premium for inflation risk) and an innovative measure for contagion among European banks.


Asset Pricing, Banking, Europe, Euro Area, Equity Markets, Diversification, Integration, Contagion, Inflation Risk, Fama and French factor models

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