hero image
Rebel Cole, Ph.D. - Florida Atlantic University. Boca Raton, FL, US

Rebel Cole, Ph.D.

Lynn Eminent Scholar Endowed Professor of Finance | Florida Atlantic University


Rebel Cole, Ph.D., is a former fed staff economist and an expert in financial institutions, real estate, and small-businesses.




Rebel Cole, Ph.D., is the Lynn Eminent Scholar Chaired Professor of Finance in the College of Business at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. Previously, he has taught at DePaul University in Chicago, UNSW in Sydney and the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He received his Ph.D. in business administration from the University of North Carolina in 1988, after which he spent 10 years working as a financial economist in the Federal Reserve System.

Cole is a special advisor to the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other non-governmental organizations, providing training and technical assistance to central banks around the world in more than 60 countries.

Cole has published peer-reviewed articles in top academic journals that include the Journal of Finance, the Journal of Financial Economics, the Journal of Financial & Quantitative Analysis, the Journal of Corporate Finance, the Journal of Banking & Finance, the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics and Real Estate Economics. His primary areas of research are commercial banking, commercial real estate, corporate governance, entrepreneurship, and financial institutions. Many of his papers use sophisticated survival models to analyze the factors explaining the failures of banks and small businesses.

According to Google Scholar, his works have been cited by other scholars more than 11,000 times. According to Scopus, his works have been cited more than 2,500 times. Most of his research papers are available for download from his webpages at http://www.rebelcole.com.

Cole is a frequent commentator in the financial press. He has been quoted in, or appeared on: Accounting Today, the American Banker, the Bloomberg Businessweek, CNN Money, Fox Business News, the Huffington Post, the New York Times, National Public Radio, the PBS Nightly Business Report, the Street.com, the Voice of America, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, and Yahoo Finance.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Small Business Finance

Financial Institutions

Commercial Banking

Corporate Governance

Real Estate

Education (2)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Ph.D., Finance 1998

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: B.A., Economics 1981

Selected Media Appearances (12)

Small Banks Are Losing to Big Banks. Their Customers Are About to Feel It.

The Wall Street Journal  


Those banks are “the heart and soul of small-business lending,” said Rebel Cole, a professor of finance at Florida Atlantic University. Banks with less than $10 billion in assets accounted for nearly 43% of small loans to businesses outstanding at the end of 2022, according to Prof. Cole’s analysis of federal banking data. The 13 largest banks, by contrast, accounted for less than 23% of small- business loans, much of which represents credit-card balances, he said.

view more

Elon Musk’s bank loans show the divide in American finance

Financial Times  


The changes in lending practices have been particularly pronounced in the years after the financial crisis. Bank lending increased to bigger businesses, but not to smaller ones, according to statistics compiled by Rebel Cole, a former Federal Reserve Board staff economist who is now a finance professor at Florida Atlantic University. By his count, the total stock of business loans of more than $1mn at US banks rose from $1.44tn in 2010 to $2.75tn in 2019 (the last year before data was skewed by the pandemic). By contrast, total loans of under $1mn fell from $652bn to $645bn.

view more

Floridians Fared Worst in Study of Pandemic Unemployment Relief

Bloomberg Law  


“Florida’s UI computer system, like those in many other states, crumbled under the onslaught of UI filings after the lockdown was implemented in March,” said Rebel Cole, a business and finance professor at Florida Atlantic University who studies unemployment trends.

view more

With COVID-19 cases on the decline, is Phase 3 of reopening Florida coming soon?

FOX 51  


"We are on the downhill path to getting to a new normal," Rebel Cole, of Florida Atlantic University, told FOX 35. "It looks like all those measures show that we peaked around July 20 and have been declining for over four weeks."

view more

FAU researchers create new COVID-19 tracker

CBS 12 News  


"A lot of the existing COVID trackers don't really present the information in a coherent and comprehensive manner, so we think we are filling that niche," said Dr. Cole.

view more

Florida professor says COVID-19 death counts need more transparency

FOX 35 Orlando  


“These numbers are not daily numbers that are reported. They’re data dumps and that’s the important thing to keep in mind,” Dr. Rebel Cole said.

view more

More layoffs coming as businesses brace for COVID-19 lockdowns

Sun Sentinel  


“Now with the specter of another major lockdown, these firms are saying it’s time to cut bait,” said Rebel Cole, a professor of finance at Florida Atlantic University.

view more

Is Florida’s COVID-19 positivity rate accurate? Labs not reporting negative test results



“This is a real problem because the percentage positive ratio is an important metric for reopening the economy and schools. If you add to the numerator and not to the denominator, you’re biasing that ratio upwards, so we’re getting misleading information. Even worse, now that people know about this, this is seriously undermining the credibility of the Florida Department of Health statistics, so we don’t really know what’s accurate and what’s not accurate,” explained Dr. Rebel Cole, a business professor at Florida Atlantic University, which is about to publish its own data tracker.

view more

Florida changes COVID reporting requirements, saying labs did not share negative results

Yahoo News  


“So many labs reporting only positives doesn’t make sense,” said Rebel Cole, a business professor at Florida Atlantic University, which is about to publish its own data tracker. “We need to demand they provide better data. The Department of Health already is under a lot of pressure for lack of transparency in their dashboard. They need to step up and make accurate information available.”

view more

Study: Restaurant brands going public can rake it in with 2-stage IPO

QSR Web  


"We know that when a firm goes public the underwriters underprice the initial public offering to ensure that all the shares will sell and the underwriter doesn't get stuck with them," study author Rebel Cole, Ph.D., said in the release. The Kaye Family Endowed Professor in Finance at FAU added, "So, if you can minimize that initial underpricing that could be millions, if not tens of millions of dollars more for the firm." [...]

view more

Senate bank bill may only indirectly boost small business loans



Rebel Cole, who studies bank lending to small businesses as a professor at Florida Atlantic University, is skeptical. Cole says that if the bill becomes law, it will make only a modest difference in how much small banks lend to businesses. "There appears to be some regulatory relief for banks less than $10 billion, which could indirectly lead to more small-business lending," he said by email. But "overall, I don’t see this bill as having much impact on much of anything. Just nibbling at the edges." [...]

view more

Close failing banks before they cost US billions of dollars, says study



Rebel Cole, Ph.D., professor and Kaye Family Endowed Chair of Finance at FAU's College of Business, and Lawrence J. White, Ph.D., the Robert Kavesh Professor of Economics at New York University's Stern School of Business, examined data from the years 2007-2014, during which U.S. bank regulators closed 433 commercial banks and 77 savings institutions. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the deposit insurer for these institutions, has estimated that closure costs totaled $77.5 billion. [...]

view more

Selected Articles (6)

How Did the Financial Crisis Affect Small-business Lending in the United States?

The Journal of Financial Research

Rebel A. Cole,Jason Damm

2020 We analyze changes in lending by U.S. banks to businesses from 1994 to 2011. We find that lending to businesses, and in particular to small businesses, declined precipitously following onset of the financial crisis. We also examine the relative changes in business lending by banks that did, and did not, receive Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds from the U.S. Treasury, and find that banks receiving capital injections from the TARP failed to increase their small-business lending. Finally, we find strong and significant positive relations of both bank capital adequacy and profitability with small-business lending.

view more

Changes in Personal Bankruptcy Protection Laws: The Impact on Bank Lending to Small Businesses


Jason Damm, Masim Suleymanov, Rebel A. Cole

2020 In the U.S., individuals who file for bankruptcy can protect certain property from creditor liquidation during the debt settlement process. We find that additional property protection, brought about by changes to personal bankruptcy laws, reduces credit availability for small businesses. Particularly in the sample of large loans greater than $100,000, which are the most at risk of loss in case of default. This impact is more severe during times of financial crisis when bankruptcy rates rise. Changes to bankruptcy protection laws also have real economic consequences for small business activity, leading to lower wages and fewer establishments per capita.

view more

Debt financing, survival, and growth of start-up firms☆

Journal of Corporate Finance

Rebel A. Cole, Tatyana Sokolyk

2018 We analyze the relation between different forms of debt financing at the firm's start-up and subsequent firm outcomes. We distinguish between business debt, obtained in the name of the firm, and personal debt, obtained in the name of the firm's owner and used to finance the start-up firm. Start-up firms with better performance prospects are more likely to use debt and, in particular, business debt. Compared to all-equity firms, firms using debt at the initial year of operations are significantly more likely to survive and achieve higher levels of revenue three years after the firm's start-up. However, results hold for business debt only. Debt obtained in the name of the firm is associated with longer survival time and higher revenues, while debt obtained in the name of the firm's owner has no effect on survival time and is associated with lower revenues.

view more

When time is not on our side: The costs of regulatory forbearance in the closure of insolvent banks☆

Journal of Banking & Finance

Rebel A. Cole, Lawrence J. White

2017 In this paper, we empirically estimate the costs of delay in the FDIC's closures of 433 commercial banks between 2007 and 2014 based upon a counterfactual closure regime. We find that the costs of delay could have been as high as $18.5 billion, or 37% of the FDIC's estimated costs of closure of $49.8 billion. We think that these findings call for a more aggressive stance by bank regulators with respect to the provisions for loan losses and write-downs of banks’ non-performing assets. More aggressive (and earlier) provisions and write-downs, or adoption of a capital ratio that penalizes nonperforming loans, would allow the concept of “prompt corrective action” (PCA) to play the role that it was meant to play in reducing FDIC losses from insolvent banks.

view more

Cookie Cutter vs. Character: The Micro Structure of Small Business Lending by Large and Small Banks

Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis

Rebel A. Cole, Lawrence G. Goldberg, Lawrence J. White

2009 The informational opacity of small businesses makes them an interesting area for the study of banks' lending practices and procedures. We use data from a survey of small businesses to analyze the micro level differences in the loan approval processes of large and small banks. We provide evidence that large banks ($1 billion or more in assets) employ standard criteria obtained from financial statements in the loan decision process, whereas small banks rely to a greater extent on information about the character of the borrower. These cookie-cutter and character approaches are compatible with the incentives and environments facing large and small banks.

view more

Agency Costs and Ownership Structure

The Journal of Finance

James S. Ang, Rebel A. Cole, James Wuh Lin

2007 We provide measures of absolute and relative equity agency costs for corporations under different ownership and management structures. Our base case is Jensen and Meckling's (1976) zero agency-cost firm, where the manager is the firm's sole shareholder. We utilize a sample of 1,708 small corporations from the FRB/NSSBF database and find that agency costs (i) are significantly higher when an outsider rather than an insider manages the firm; (ii) are inversely related to the manager's ownership share; (iii) increase with the number of nonmanager shareholders, and (iv) to a lesser extent, are lower with greater monitoring by banks.

view more