Areas of Expertise (4)
Sustainable and Impact Investing
Entrepreneurship and Small Business
Pension Asset Management
Adair Morse is a faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley. Beginning in February 2021, she is on leave from UC Berkeley to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Capital Access in the Office of Domestic Finance at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Morse holds the Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics and is Associate Professor of Finance at the Haas School of Business. She is also a fellow at the Berkeley Center for Law and Business, and Founding Faculty Director of the Sustainable and Impact Finance Initiative. She sits on the Governance and Allocation Committee of the California Rebuilding Fund, a public-private partnership of the State of California to provide affordable small business loans. She is also an Expert Panel Member of the Norwegian Ministry of Finance, for oversight of the $1 trillion sovereign fund.
Morse’s research spans multiple areas of finance: household finance, sustainable investing, discrimination and corruption, venture capital, and pension management, with the unifying theme that she tries to choose topics useful for leveling economic playing fields. Recent work includes papers on algorithmic discrimination, small business policy during the pandemic, impact and sustainable investment, pension governance, and communication from the Federal Reserve. Her publications appear in the top economics and finance journals, and she has won a number of top finance research prizes, including the Brattle Prize, the Jensen Prize, prizes at the EFA and WFA, the Moskowitz Impact prize, among others. Many of her various works have been directly implemented into policy, including actions by the U.S. Congress, the Greek Parliament, and many state banking regulators. She holds a Ph.D. in finance from the University of Michigan.
Ross School of Business, University of Michigan: PhD, Finance
Purdue University: MS, Agricultural Economics
Purdue University: MS, Statistics
Colgate University: BA
Honors & Awards (4)
New Zealand Finance Meeting - 2nd Best Paper
RAFI Best Paper Award for ESG
2018 Runner-up The RAFI Best Paper Award for ESG-related research, sponsored by RAFI Indices, LLC, recognizes creative and impactful research that advances the investment industry’s understanding of the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria utilized in sustainable, responsible, and impact investing strategies.
European Finance Association Prize
2012 CommonFund Best Paper relevant to Endowment and Foundation Asset Management
Journal of Financial Economics Jensen Prize for Corporate Finance and Organizations
2009 Winner of 2nd Prize
Selected External Service & Affiliations (4)
- Fellow of the Berkeley Center for Law and Business, Berkeley Law School, 2018 – present
- Norwegian Ministry of Finance, Member of the Expert Panel for Oversight of the $1 trillion Norwegian Sovereign Fund
- Board Member, Governance and Allocations Committee, California Small Business Rebuilding Fund, 2020
- Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research
Positions Held (1)
At Haas since 2012
Feb. 2021 - present: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Capital Access, Office of Domestic Finance, U.S. Department of the Treasury (on leave from UC Berkeley) 2019 - present, Founding Faculty Director, Sustainable and Impact Finance (SAIF), Haas School of Business 2016 – present, Associate Professor of Finance, Haas School of Business 2013 – 2016, Assistant Professor of Finance, Haas School of Business 2012 – 2013, Visiting Assistant Professor of Finance, Haas School of Business 2012 – 2013, Associate Professor of Finance, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago 2007 – 2012, Assistant Professor of Finance, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
Media Appearances (20)
Is the Friedman doctrine still relevant in the 21st century?
Chicago Booth Review online
Research co-authored by Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse, the Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics (on leave), looked at investment in certain venture capital funds to explore how much value investors might be willing to give up for the right cause. They find that investors in dual-purpose VC funds, which aim to have a positive social impact as well as generate financial wealth, willingly sacrificed returns for the sake of creating social benefit.
People of color have a new enemy: techno-racism
The Philadelphia Tribune online
A study co-authored by Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse, (on leave as the Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics), found that mortgage algorithms share the same bias toward Black and Latino borrowers as human loan officers do. She also found that bias costs people of color more in interest every year. “Even if the people writing the algorithms intend to create a fair system, their programming is having a disparate impact on minority borrowers — in other words, discriminating under the law," she said.
Black Homebuyers Today Pay An Unequal Price
NPR - All Things Considered radio
After the 2008 financial crisis, mortgage backers began charging more to borrowers with lower credit scores and less wealth—a practice that disproportionately affects Black homebuyers in America. Research by professors Nancy Wallace, the Lisle and Roslyn Payne Chair in Real Estate and Capital Markets; Richard Stanton, Kingsford Capital Management Chair in Business; and Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse, the Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics (on leave), found that fintech lenders who use algorithms to determine mortgages are just as bad as traditional mortgage operations in charging higher rates to African American and Latino loan-seekers.
States Try to Rescue Small Businesses as U.S. Aid Is Snarled
The New York Times online
The innovative California program is aimed at the smallest businesses—most with fewer than 10 employees—and those in low-income and minority neighborhoods. "P.P.P. never really served these kinds of businesses very well," said Prof. Laura Tyson, Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School, who helped design the fund along with Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse and colleagues at Berkeley Law.
Gov. Newsom launches rebuilding fund for small businesses
San Francisco Business Times online
California Rebuilding Fund, a new pool of money to support struggling small businesses by offering flexible, affordable capital and free advisory services through community-based lenders. Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse, the Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics, and Former Dean Laura Tyson, Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School, were instrumental in helping to design and develop the fund.
New small business loan program hopes to help California rebuild
FOX2 KTVU online
The idea was developed by a team of UC Berkeley professors Laura Tyson and Adair Morse. "We were trying to figure out how to help the local governments and state government to stretch the limited amount of funds that they had to reach as many of the four million small businesses in the state of California," said Morse, an Associate Professor of Finance at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.
Why fintech needs to tackle AI bias
The Fintech Times online
The fintech industry wants to build relevant, fair, and trustworthy products. To do that, they need to realize where bias creeps in. According to research by Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse, Prof. Nancy Wallace, and Prof. Richard Stanton, minority homebuyers face widespread statistical lending discrimination even when lenders are using online, algorithm-based models.
Amid pandemic, here's what researchers have learned about the economy
Planet Money online
Whether PPP loans were effective is still a matter of debate. Some research say the scheme was ineffectual. But other research, like that done by Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse, the Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics, found PPP application success increased microbusinesses' medium-run survival probability by 20.5%.
The false hope of reopening is killing small businesses
Just because businesses can open doesn't mean there are customers. According to Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse, Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics, the situation is worsened by the failure of policymakers to understand what businesses are facing. In Oakland she found that PPP loans were effective in keeping microbusinesses with just a handful of employees afloat, but less often for businesses with more workers. ”We really need to think about the size of small businesses and how it can support the different classes [of businesses],” she said.
‘Most efficient vehicle’: UC Berkeley professors create California Rebuilding Fund for small businesses
Daily Californian online
Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen, the Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor Emeritus of Business Administration; Prof. Laura Tyson, Distinguished Professor of the Graduate School and faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact; and Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse have banded together to back the California Rebuilding Fund, which aims to help small businesses harmed by the pandemic. “For the health of the localities and for the health of these communities, the fund makes sure that these businesses survive and have access to the resources that they need to continue in business,” Yellen said. “The health of our society and these communities is really at stake here.”
Environmental, Social, And Governance: Why Corporations' Responses To George Floyd Protests Matter
S&P Global Ratings online
The horrific May 25 death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, while in Minneapolis police custody, sparked protests across the U.S. This incident came at a time when many communities were already reeling from the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on people of color, and it was captured on video for the world to see.
Bay Area group raising $1 billion for small businesses hurt by virus, theft, curfews
Los Angeles Times online
The expected high default rate for small-business recovery loans is translating into interest rates “way above normal times,” said Adair Morse, a finance professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. For the hardest-hit areas, she estimates rates “in the order of 25% to 30%, if not a lot more.” So loan programs “must at least be partially subsidized by government or philanthropy backstops,” she said.
City of Berkeley announces loan fund to support small businesses
Daily Californian online
UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business developed the project proposal for the SOS Business Loan Fund in March, authored in part by Adair Morse, the director of the business school’s Sustainable and Impact Finance Initiative. According to Morse, the Haas School’s role in the SOS Business Loan Fund is to be a neutral party between the city of Berkeley and financial institutions.
This Is What Racism Sounds Like in the Banking Industry
New York Times online
Jimmy Kennedy earned $13 million during his nine-year career as a player in the National Football League. He was the kind of person most banks would be happy to have as a client.
Apple’s credit card may discriminate, just like lots of banking algorithms
Adair Morse is an associate professor of finance at University of California, Berkeley, and studies the bias in those algorithms. She said they weigh thousands of variables, including where you went to school.
Bad, biased, and unethical uses of AI
The Enterprisers Project online
Looking at cases of unethical uses of AI can help managers avoid pitfalls. One such case was studied by Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse, Soloman P. Lee Chair in Business Ethics; Prof. Nancy Wallace, the Lisle and Roslyn Payne Chair in Real Estate Capital Markets; and Prof. Richard Stanton, Kingsford Capital Management Chair in Business. In looking at online housing lenders, they found that even if the people writing the algorithms intended to create neutral systems, they've ended up discriminating against minority borrowers.
Can algorithms be racist? Trump’s housing department says no
A new rule would would make it nearly impossible for banks, landlords, or insurance companies to be sued when their algorithms result in people of color being disproportionately denied housing. But algorithms aren't necessarily unbiased. Research by Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse, Prof. Nancy Wallace, and Prof. Richard Stanton has found that online lenders habitually charged borrowers of color higher interest rates than white borrowers with similar credit profiles.
Sustainable finance goes to business school
Wall Street journal online
Berkeley Haas is giving students hands-on experience with the Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund, which students have managed since 2007. And interest by students in socially responsible investment only continues to rise, according to Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse.
Berkeley Haas’s Morse: FinTech Also Practices Housing Discrimination
Poets & Quants online
Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse of the Haas Finance Group, Prof. Richard Stanton, Kingsford Capital Management Chair in Business, and Prof. Nancy Wallace, Professor and Chair of the Real Estate Group, found that fintech lenders who use algorithms to determine mortgages are just as bad as traditional mortgage operations in discriminating against African American and Hispanic loan-seekers.
Digital mortgages are here, but some buyers are hesitant to use them. Here's what you should know.
Chicago Tribune online
Algorithmic bias has replaced human bias in lending, according to research by Assoc. Prof. Adair Morse of the Haas Finance Group.
Working Papers (3)
Small Business Survival Capabilities and Policy Effectiveness: Evidence from Oakland
Robert Bartlett and Adair Morse
How Pervasive is Corporate Fraud?
With Alexander Dyck and Luigi Zingales May 2020
Consumer-Lending Discrimination in the FinTech Era
Robert Bartlett, Adair Morse, Richard Stanton, and Nancy Wallace November 2019
Selected Papers & Publications (9)
Algorithmic Accountability: A Legal and Economic FrameworkBerkeley Technology Law Journal
Robert Bartlett, Adair Morse, Richard Stanton, and Nancy Wallace)
Impact InvestingJournal of Financial Economics
Brad Barber, Adair Morse, Ayako Yasuda
Technological Innovation and Discrimination in Household FinancePalgrave-MacMillan Handbook of Technological Finance
Adair Morse and Karen Pence
Stock Returns over the FOMC CycleJournal of Finance
Adair Morse, Anna Cieslak and Annette Vissing-Jorgensen
Executive Lawyers: Gatekeepers or Strategic OfficersJournal of Law and Economics
Adair Morse, Wei Wang and Serena Wu
Trickle-Down ConsumptionReview of Economics and Statistics
Adair Morse and Marianne Bertrand
Measuring Income Tax Evasion using Bank Credit: Evidence from GreeceQuarterly Journal of Economics
Adair Morse, Nikolaos Artavanis and Margarita Tsoutsoura
Peer-to-Peer Crowdfunding: Information and the Potential for Disruption in Consumer LendingAnnual Review of Financial Economics
Compensation Rigging by Powerful CEOs: A Reply and Cross-Sectional EvidenceCritical Finance Review
Adair Morse, Vikram Nanda, and Amit Seru
Impact Investing Landscape Sustainable Investment Fund Impact Investing Practicum New Venture Finance