Edmund Cogswell Converse Professor of Finance and Banking

David Scharfstein is the Edmund Cogswell Converse Professor of Finance and Banking at Harvard Business School. Scharfstein has published on a broad range of topics in finance, including corporate investment and financing behavior, risk management, financial distress, capital allocation, and venture capital.  His current research focuses on financial intermediation and financial regulation, including research on housing finance, financial system risk, bank lending and funding, and the growth of the financial sector.  Scharfstein is currently a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is also a director of the M&T Bank Corporation. During 2017, he was president of the American Finance Association.  In 2009-2010, he was a senior advisor to the U.S. Treasury Secretary. He previously was a member of the Financial Advisory Roundtable of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  From 1987- 2003 he was a finance professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Scharfstein received a Ph.D. in Economics from MIT in 1986 and an A.B. from Princeton University in 1982.


Recent Working Paper

Sergey Chernenko and David Scharfstein, 2021. Racial Disparities in the Paycheck Protection Program


Using a large sample of Florida restaurants, we document significant racial disparities in borrowing through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and investigate the causes of these disparities. Black-owned restaurants are 25% less likely to receive PPP loans. Restaurant location explains 5 percentage points of this differential. Restaurant characteristics explain an additional 10 percentage points of the gap in PPP borrowing. On average, prior borrowing relationships do not explain disparities. The remaining 10% disparity is driven by a 17% disparity in PPP borrowing from banks, which is partially offset by greater borrowing from nonbanks, largely fintechs. Disparities in PPP borrowing cannot be attributed to lower awareness of PPP loans or lower demand for PPP loans by minority-owned restaurants. Black-owned restaurants are significantly less likely to receive bank PPP loans in counties with more racial bias. In these counties, Black-owned restaurants are more likely to substitute to nonbank PPP loans. This substitution, however, is not strong enough to eliminate racial disparities in PPP borrowing. Finally, we show that our findings apply more broadly across industries in a sample of firms that were likely eligible for PPP.