Optimal bonuses and deferred pay for bank employees : implications of hidden actions with persistent effects in time
We present a sequence of two-period models of incentive-based compensation in order to understand how the properties of optimal compensation structures vary with changes in the model environment. Each model corresponds to a different occupation within a bank, such as credit line managers, loan originators, or traders. All models share a common trait: the effects of hidden actions are persistent, and hence are revealed over time. We characterize the corresponding optimal contracts that are consistent with prudent risk taking. We compare the contracts by ranking them according to the average ...
On the Measurement of Large Financial Firm Resolvability
We say that a large financial institution is "resolvable" if policymakers would allow it to go through unassisted bankruptcy in the event of failure. The choice between bankruptcy or bailout trades off the higher loss imposed on the economy in a potentially disruptive resolution against the incentive for excessive risk-taking created by an assisted resolution or a bailout. The resolution plans ("living wills") of large financial institutions contain information needed to evaluate this trade-off. In this paper, we propose a tool to complement the living will review process: an impact ...
The Complexity of CEO Compensation
I study firm characteristics that justify the use of options or refresher grants in the optimal compensation packages for CEOs in the presence of moral hazard. I model explicitly the determination of stock prices as a function of the output realizations of the firm: Symmetric learning by all parties about the exogenous quality of the firm makes stock prices sensitive to output observations. Compensation packages are designed to transform this sensitivity of prices-to-output into the sensitivity of consumption-to-output that is dictated by the optimal contract. Heterogeneity in the structure ...
Repeated moral hazard with effort persistence
I study a problem of repeated moral hazard in which the effect of effort is persistent over time: each period's outcome distribution is a function of a geometrically distributed lag of past efforts. I show that when the utility of the agent is linear in effort, a simple rearrangement of terms in his lifetime utility translates this problem into a related standard repeated moral hazard. The solutions for consumption in the two problems are observationally equivalent, implying that the main properties of the optimal contract remain unchanged with persistence. To illustrate, I present the ...
Banker compensation and bank risk taking: the organizational economics view
Models of banks operating under limited liability with deposit insurance and employee incentive problems are used to analyze how banker compensation contracts can contribute to bank risk shifting. The first model is a multi-agent, moral-hazard model, where each agent (e.g. a loan officer) operates a risky lending technology. Results differ from the single-agent model; pay for performance contracts do not necessarily indicate risk at the bank level. Correlation of returns is the most important factor. If loan officer returns are uncorrelated, the form of pay is irrelevant for risk. If returns ...
Moral hazard and persistence
We study a multiperiod principal-agent problem with moral hazard in which effort is persistent: the agent is required to exert effort only in the initial period of the contract, and this effort determines the conditional distribution of output in the following periods. We provide a characterization of the optimal dynamic compensation scheme. As in a static moral hazard problem, consumption ? regardless of time period ? is ranked according to likelihood ratios of output histories. As in most dynamic models with asymmetric information, the inverse of the marginal utility of consumption ...
Banker Compensation, Relative Performance, and Bank Risk
A multi-agent, moral-hazard model of a bank operating under deposit insurance and limited liability is used to analyze the connection between compensation of bank employees (below CEO) and bank risk. Limited liability with deposit insurance is a force that distorts effort down. However, the need to increase compensation to risk-averse employees in order to compensate them for extra bank risk is a force that reduces this effect. Optimal contracts use relative performance and are implementable as a wage with bonuses tied to individual and firm performance. The connection between pay for ...
Hidden effort, learning by doing, and wage dynamics
Many occupations are subject to learning by doing: Effort at the workplace early in the career of a worker results in higher productivity later on. In such occupations, if effort at work is unobservable, a moral hazard problem also arises. We study a particular specification of learning by doing in which the conditional distribution of output depends on the sum of undepreciated efforts. With this specification, we can overcome the technical difficulties for solving for the optimal contract that arise because of the persistent effects of effort in time. Our numerical example shows that effort ...
Assessing Large Financial Firm Resolvability
A large financial institution may be said to be "resolvable" if, in the event of failure, policymakers would allow it to go through bankruptcy without financial assistance from the government. The choice between bankruptcy or bailout trades off different sets of costs on the economy. This Economic Brief presents a new tool that could assist policymakers with this evaluation, potentially helping to curb the "too big to fail" problem, serving as a useful complement to the "living wills" process, and making the resolution process more transparent.
Regulation and the composition of CEO pay
A look at the recent trends in the use of grants of restricted stocks and options in the compensation packages of chief executive officers (CEOs) of large, public U.S. companies reveals that there have been important changes. These changes coincide with the introduction of two new regulations: the modifications of reporting requirements for option grants introduced by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, and the adoption in 2006 of revised accounting standards from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) included in statement no. 123R (FAS 123R), which mandated the expensing of option ...