Bo Becker is Swedish House of Finance’s New Director
Bo Becker, Cevian Capital Professor of Finance at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), will take over Per Strömberg as Director of Swedish House of Finance (SHoF) and Head of SSE’s Department of Finance starting July 1.
Professor Becker is taking the helm at SHoF in a time of great financial instability. The role of research during these uncertain times is important for policymakers and regulators, he says.
“SHoF will develop as a meeting place between financial research and practice. We want the research and education done here, and the networks they generate, to inform public policy and industry practice. I think we can be even better than we have been,” says Professor Becker.
Professor Becker holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He was previously a faculty member at the University of Illinois and Harvard Business School.
Professor Becker’s research focuses on corporate credit markets. His recent papers looked into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on corporate credit markets, credit ratings and credit analysis, insolvency and restructuring, and cycles in credit markets.
Here is what he has to say about his upcoming term as director:
What does this appointment mean to you?
The Department of Finance at SSE is among the top finance departments in Europe, and joining that kind of research environment that SHoF is home to was a great opportunity for me. I'm also an alumn of the school, so it felt like coming home. I love our students, and I'm a big fan of the idea of providing first-rate business education in Stockholm. Being the director is ultimately a chance to help my colleagues do important research on interesting questions.
Any highlights from Professor Strömberg’s tenure as director?
SHoF is a unique collaboration between SSE, public sector institutions and the financial sector in Sweden. This was an experiment when it started in 2010, and Professor Strömberg and everyone else who has been here from the start has helped make that experiment a success. His academic leadership is unparalleled, which is key to building a great research environment and to attracting the next generation of a new faculty.
What are your goals for the next few years as director?
SHoF will develop as a meeting place between financial research and practice. We want the research and education done here, and the networks they generate, to inform public policy and industry practice. I think we can be even better than we have been.
What role do you see SHoF play during these times of economic uncertainty?
The role of SHoF for policymakers and regulators is critical in times of stress and change. We live in a financial world, and the need to understand and manage financial events is a recurrent policy challenge. For example, SHoF was created in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, when the need for rapidly processing financial events and crafting appropriate policy responses was top of mind. Right now, key challenges include the sustainability push in finance, the return of inflation – possibly more persistent than we hope – and the war in Ukraine with all its impact on human life and economic events.
Having a strong academic institution provides a reservoir of relevant input for a range of topics. This is both having researchers on location and being connected to leading academics internationally. Our annual conference, sponsored by The Swedish Securities Markets Association this year and held in August, is a fitting example.
Any research you are currently working on that you would like to highlight?
Recently, I published a paper on zombie lending in Europe. Zombie lending is a funny name for when borrowers with low productivity and weak prospects are supported by banks. In this joint work with Victoria Ivashina, we point out that the quality of a nation's insolvency system is a key factor in this; possibly more important than bank regulation and supervision in the current environment. I have also worked on how disruption – the process of technology-based innovators replacing industry incumbents – creates losers as well as winners, and how this is visible in default data from credit markets.