Recently named the Anderson Chair in Finance at UCR, among Jean Helwege’s most well-known research studies are “Structural Models of Corporate Bond Pricing” (The Review of Financial Studies, 2004) and “Initial Public Offerings in Hot and Cold Markets” (The Journal of Finance, 1999).
Helwege has written, co-written and published more than 30 papers, and her most recent research includes a working paper, “Liquidity and Price Pressure in the Corporate Bond Market: Evidence from Megabonds,” and “How Does Low for Long Impact Credit Risk Premia?” issued in 2018.
“Three of these papers have something to say about corporate bond interest rates. In this environment today, corporate bond interest rates are extremely low, although always higher than the interest rates on a Treasury bond,” says Helwege, adding that investors might not want to be in the stock market because it’s too scary, but Treasury bonds earn so little money.
“So, you will get some return for doing that, but the interesting question is why. Is it because the bonds might default? Is it because they are not very liquid? Or, is it because people ask for extra interest rate as they are worried about a tiny bit of default risk? These are the questions we explore.”
Currently, Helwege is also co-editor of the Quarterly Journal of Finance and serves as associate editor for both the International Review of Finance and Journal of Financial Services Research.
Also a professor of finance, Helwege guides undergraduate and graduate students through the exploration of finance in the classroom, and she conveys obvious satisfaction in teaching business at UCR specifically: “We are a school of moderate- to low-income students, and they don’t necessarily have career-related family connections or the world experiences that make it easy for them to jump into the finance arena,” she says, and she relishes their professional successes.
“I’m very focused on their career preparation and workplace prospects—I want to see our students get the most they can out of a college degree.”
That commitment is also reflected in her role as faculty advisor to the Hylander Financial Group—a club for finance students who meet weekly to discuss stock market conditions and manage a real-fund $200,000 portfolio. She makes a clear connection between the importance of a hands-on experience, like the investment group, and a useful business education: “These students go out into the world and are successful because of this immersive experience.”