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Excessive financial services CEO pay and financial crisis: Evidence from calibration estimation

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  • Dong, Gang Nathan

Abstract

The questions of whether there ever existed excessive risk-taking incentives from executive compensation in the financial industry, and whether top executives of financial services firms actually responded to such excessive incentives that eventually led to the crisis remain unanswered. The prior research has attempted to answer the second question, however, with conflicting evidence and without a clear definition of excessive. To answer the first question, this paper uses a numerical calibration approach to estimate the optimal level of CEO pay and derive the excessive compensation which provides excessive risk-taking incentives. We then examine the extent of excessive compensation in the financial industry relative to the non-financial industries during the 2000s and whether there were changes in compensation practices between the post Sarbanes–Oxley period and the pre-crisis period. We find mixed evidence in favor of the presence of higher excessive pay in the financial industry, and the CEO compensation practices remained largely unchanged over time. In addition, the relation between excessive pay and excessive risk-taking in the financial industry is somewhat weak, suggesting that CEO compensation might not be a major cause for the crisis in 2008.

Suggested Citation

  • Dong, Gang Nathan, 2014. "Excessive financial services CEO pay and financial crisis: Evidence from calibration estimation," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 75-96.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:empfin:v:27:y:2014:i:c:p:75-96
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jempfin.2013.11.001
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corporate governance; CEO compensation; Calibration estimation; Financial crisis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G20 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - General
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • E64 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Incomes Policy; Price Policy

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