Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Cline, Brandon N.

Committee Member

Taboada, Alvaro G.

Committee Member

Williamson, Claudia R.

Committee Member

Blank, Douglas Brian, II

Committee Member

Highfield, Micheal J.

Other Advisors or Committee Members

Campbell, Randall C.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Business Administration (Finance)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Business


Department of Finance and Economics


The first essay explores relations between political affiliations and illegal insider trading. Assessing illegal insider trading is challenging due to the nature of the activity. Researchers observe and evaluate only the detected portion of illegal trading, not all illegal transactions. This presents a problem when using traditional empirical techniques to investigate such activity. In our analysis we employ a bivariate probit model that takes into account the partial observability nature of insider trading and provides estimates for the determinants of both the commission and the detection of illegal insider trading. Among our findings, most notable is the influence of the SEC’s political structure on insider trading detection. We show that the political party affiliation within the SEC, past indictments by the SEC, and SEC budget play a crucial role in determining current prosecution. Past SEC indictments significantly decrease the likelihood to engage in illegal insider trading as well. Essay two investigates insider trading returns by corporate insiders in light of their firms’ lobbying activities. Lobbying is a channel firms often use to influence regulatory change. Firms also use lobbying to obtain information on upcoming legislative and regulatory changes that are significant to the firms’ future. Establishing and maintaining these political connections provides informational advantage not only to the firms engaged in lobbying but also to the insiders of these firms who receive an opportunity to base their trading decision on this potentially valuable information. Using data on firm lobbying activities, we provide evidence of an informational advantage acquired by corporate insiders of firms that develop these connections with policymakers. We find that insiders of lobbying firms gain additional return of 138 (156) basis points on their buys (sells) trades relative to transactions placed by insiders of firms that are not engaged in lobbying activities. We also document that the role of establishing and fostering lobbying contacts and the amounts spent on lobbying differ with type of insider transactions and length of investment horizons. The focus of the third essay is the impact of actual trading on material non-public information on firms’ securities. Finance and law scholars present theoretical arguments both in favor of and against trading on material non-public information. However, investigating empirically the actual impact of insider trading on the insider’s firm poses significant challenges due to the lack of precision in identifying from publically available data trades that are based on private information. In this study, we utilize Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) indictments of illegal insider trading to examine the impact of illegal insider trading on the firm. We provide evidence suggesting that illegal insider trading increases stock market liquidity for the involved firms. Our results imply that bid-ask spread following transactions based on private information is narrower for long-run windows. However, we also find results implying that informed trading is associated with reduced liquidity, when estimated with Amihud Illiquidity proxy, reflecting price impact of trades based on private information.