Paul Ma is an assistant professor of accounting at the Carlson School of Management. He earned a PhD in economics at Stanford University in 2013, where he was the recipient of the Carl M. and Carolyn C. Franklin Graduate Fellowship. Prior to attending Stanford he received his AB in economics from the University of Chicago, and won the D. Gale Johnson Memorial Prize for outstanding undergraduate thesis in economics. In the past he has consulted for the Securities and Exchange Commission and worked as a high frequency trading analyst for Breakwater Trading.
Ma conducts research in market efficiency, financial disclosure, and behavioral finance. His recent research focuses on language differences between firm-issued press releases and SEC filings concerning material events, and in understanding the role of investor inattention in processing qualitative information.
Ma's research on search-based peer firms uses internet traffic patterns at the SEC EDGAR website to show that firms appearing in chronologically adjacent searches by the same individual are fundamentally similar on multiple dimensions. In fact, traffic-based peer firms identified by the project's algorithm significantly outperform peer firms based on six-digit GICS industry grouping in explaining cross-sectional variations in base firms' stock returns, valuation multiples, forecasted and realized growth rates, research and development expenditures, and various other key financial ratios. The results highlight the usefulness of EDGAR data, as well as the latent intelligence in search traffic patterns.
Additional research interests include text analytics, topic modeling of news, and co-search behavior.