Political Connections in the Municipal Bond Market: Is There a Pay-to-Stay
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This paper investigates the impact of investment banks’ political contributions on their underwriting business with local government officials. Using an original data set on municipal underwriting banks political contributions from 1994 to 2013, I find that political contributions are strongly associated with the likelihood that a contributing bank is hired, the bank’s market share, and the bond issuance cost. Specifically, contributing underwriters receive 19.6% more business than non-contributing banks. Bonds underwritten by contributing banks incur 4% higher fees compared with their non- contributing peers. A contribution of $1,000 is associated with $1,270 higher total compensation for a contributing underwriter. These results continue to hold when controlling for underwriters characteristics and local economic factors. The evidence suggests that political connections still play a valuable role in the municipal bond market after the adoption of Rule G-37.