Thomas R. Covert

Booth School of Business
University of Chicago
5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
NBER Program Affiliations: IO , EEE
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Institutional Affiliation: University of Chicago

NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2019Relinquishing Riches: Auctions vs Informal Negotiations in Texas Oil and Gas Leasing
with Richard L. Sweeney: w25712
This paper compares outcomes from informally negotiated oil and gas leases to those awarded via centralized auction. We focus on Texas, where legislative decisions in the early twentieth century assigned thousands of proximate parcels to different mineral allocation mechanisms. We show that during the fracking boom, which began unexpectedly decades later, auctioned leases generated at least 40 percent larger upfront payments and 60 percent more output than negotiated leases did. These results suggest large potential gains from employing centralized, formal mechanisms in markets that traditionally allocate in an unstructured fashion, including the broader $3 trillion market for privately owned minerals.
September 2017Crude by Rail, Option Value, and Pipeline Investment
with Ryan Kellogg: w23855
The U.S. shale boom has profoundly increased crude oil movements by both pipelines–the traditional mode of transportation–and railroads. This paper develops a model of how pipeline investment and railroad use are determined in equilibrium, emphasizing how railroads' flexibility allows them to compete with pipelines. We show that policies that address crude-by-rail's environmental externalities by increasing its costs should lead to large increases in pipeline investment and substitution of oil flows from rail to pipe. Similarly, we find that policies enjoining pipeline construction would cause 80-90% of the displaced oil to flow by rail instead.
September 2013The Effects of Mandatory Transparency in Financial Market Design: Evidence from the Corporate Bond Market
with Paul Asquith, Parag Pathak: w19417
In July 2002, FINRA began mandatory dissemination of price and volume information for corporate bond trades. This paper, using recently released data, measures transparency’s effect on trading activity and costs for the entire corporate bond market. Even though trading costs decrease significantly across all types of bonds, trading activity does not increase and, by one measure, decreases. Transparency affects high-yield bonds differently than investment grade bonds. High-yield bonds have the largest decrease in trading activity, 71.1%, and in trading costs, 22.9%. High-yield bonds also disproportionately contribute to the estimated reduction in total trading costs of $600 million a year.
August 2010The Market for Borrowing Corporate Bonds
with Paul Asquith, Andrea S. Au, Parag A. Pathak: w16282
This paper describes the market for borrowing corporate bonds using a comprehensive dataset from a major lender. The cost of borrowing corporate bonds is comparable to the cost of borrowing stock, between 10 and 20 basis points per year. Factors that increase borrowing costs are loan size, percentage of inventory lent, rating, and borrower identity. Trading strategies based on cost or amount of borrowing do not yield excess returns. Bonds with corresponding CDS contracts are more actively lent than those without. Finally, the 2007 Credit Crunch did not affect average borrowing cost or loan volume, but increased borrowing cost variance.

Published: Asquith, Paul & Au, Andrea S. & Covert, Thomas & Pathak, Parag A., 2013. "The market for borrowing corporate bonds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(1), pages 155-182. citation courtesy of

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