Publications

Working Paper
Tetyana Balyuk and Emily Williams. 11/29/2021. “Friends and Family Money: P2P Transfers and Financially Fragile Consumers”.Abstract
We assess the impact that real time money transfer technology has on consumer outcomes, particularly during periods of financial fragility. We do this by developing a new data set that documents use of Zelle - the most widely used P2P money transfer technology in the U.S. today - constructed from transaction level data from a large data aggregator for millions of U.S. consumers. We combine these data with a hand-collected data set on Zelle partnerships for 1,113 financial institutions. Finally, we introduce a novel instrument by identifying the location of consumers' close social circle using transactions data. We make use of the fact that money transfer technology is a network good and hence your own use is a function of the use by others, and particularly that of your close friends and family. We then use variation in Zelle bank partnerships at the location of consumers' residence and consumers' close social circle to instrument for Zelle use. We compare users residing in the same city with similar incomes, but with different exposure to Zelle, and observe consumer outcomes during periods of financial fragility. We find that Zelle use results in fewer overdrafts and higher consumption by financially fragile consumers. Consumers substitute away from traditional methods of transferring cash towards Zelle, an effect that is more pronounced for smaller transfer sizes and low-income consumers who are more price-sensitive.
Marco DiMaggio, Angela Ma, and Emily Williams. 12/2020. “In the Red: Overdrafts, Payday Lending and the Underbanked”.Abstract
The reordering of transactions from “high-to-low” is a controversial bank practice thought to maximize fees paid by low-income customers on overdrawn accounts. We exploit a series of class-action lawsuits that mandated that some banks cease the practice. Using alternative credit bureau data, we find that after banks cease high-to-low reordering, low-income individuals reduce payday borrowing, increase consumption, undergo long-term improvements in financial health, and gain access to lower-cost loans in the traditional financial system. These findings, in suggesting that aggressive bank practices can create demand for alternative financial services, highlight an important link between the traditional and alternative financial systems.

Revise and Resubmit, Journal of Finance

Emily Williams. 4/20/2020. “Costly External Financing and Monetary Policy Transmission: Evidence from a Natural Experiment”.Abstract

I provide new evidence that large and small banks have different external financing costs, which generates cross sectional variation in a deposits market pricing power channel of monetary policy transmission. I do so by exploiting a natural experiment using anti-trust related bank branch divestitures. In these divestitures, branches are transferred from large to small banks such that the branches are largely preserved and market structure remains unchanged. Consistent with the existence of capital market imperfections at small banks, I find that – holding market concentration constant – lending declines in areas local to branches newly owned by small banks, and deposit rates increase by more, when interest rates increase. My results are confirmed with geographically granular tests utilizing the entire sample of data, and indicate that financing frictions still matter for the transmission of monetary policy through banks.

 

divested_branches.xlsx
Journal Article
Emily Williams and Stefan Lewellen. 2/9/2020. “Did Technology Contribute to the Housing Boom? Evidence from MERS”.Abstract
We examine the effects of the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, on mortgage origination volumes and foreclosure rates prior to the Great Recession. MERS was introduced in the late 1990s and significantly reduced the cost and time associated with secondary loan sales. Using novel data from the Massachusetts Registry of Deeds, we show that the introduction of MERS led to an expansion in credit supply that was primarily fueled by non-bank lenders originating loans to low-income borrowers. We also find that foreclosure rates were higher on these loans. Our paper provides a new explanation for why credit supply increased prior to the 2008 financial crisis and why supply increases were larger in low-income areas (Conditionally accepted at the Journal of Financial Economics). 
Data
Emily Williams and Marco DiMaggio. 2020. “Bank Overdraft Response to COVID-19”. Click here.
Case
Emily McComb and Emily Williams. 2/21/2020. “Growing Skoah”.
David Scharfstein, Emily Williams, and Shawn O'Brien. 4/3/2019. “Live Oak Bank”. Harvard Business Publishing