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Cash holdings and bank compensation

Author

Listed:
  • Viral V. Acharya
  • Hamid Mehran
  • Rangarajan K. Sundaram

Abstract

The experience of the 2007-09 financial crisis has prompted much consideration of the link between the structure of compensation in financial firms and excessive risk taking by their employees. A key concern has been that compensation design rewards managers for pursuing risky strategies but fails to exact penalties for decision making that leads to bank failures, financial system disruption, government bailouts, and taxpayer losses. As a way to better align management's interests with those of other stakeholders such as creditors and taxpayers, the authors propose a cash holding requirement designed to induce financial firms to adopt a conservative approach to risk taking. Firms meet the requirement by deferring employee compensation in an escrowed cash reserve account. The cash accrues to the earners on a vesting schedule, but is transferred to the firm in times of stress so that it can pay down its debt or otherwise bolster its assets. The cash requirement increases with the leverage of the firm and with the firm's vulnerability to aggregate stress; the authors provide illustrative calculations sizing the proposed cash requirement for many U.S. financial firms over the 2000-13 period. The analysis also compares the role of deferred cash compensation in promoting financial stability with that of other instruments, such as inside debt, deferred equity, and contingent capital.

Suggested Citation

  • Viral V. Acharya & Hamid Mehran & Rangarajan K. Sundaram, 2016. "Cash holdings and bank compensation," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Aug, pages 77-83.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednep:00032
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    3. Rangarajan K. Sundaram & David L. Yermack, 2007. "Pay Me Later: Inside Debt and Its Role in Managerial Compensation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(4), pages 1551-1588, August.
    4. O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
    5. Carola Frydman & Dirk Jenter, 2010. "CEO Compensation," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 75-102, December.
    6. Martin N. Baily & John Y. Campbell & John H. Cochrane & Douglas W. Diamond & Darrell Duffie & Kenneth R. French & Anil K. Kashyap & Frederic S. Mishkin & Raghuram Rajan & David S. Scharfstein & Robert, 2013. "Aligning Incentives at Systemically Important Financial Institutions: A Proposal by the Squam Lake Group," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 25(4), pages 37-40, December.
    7. Viral Acharya & Robert Engle & Matthew Richardson, 2012. "Capital Shortfall: A New Approach to Ranking and Regulating Systemic Risks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 59-64, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zhang, Jinqing & He, Liang & An, Yunbi, 2020. "Measuring banks’ liquidity risk: An option-pricing approach," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 111(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    managerial incentives; risk management; financial stability; deferred cash compensation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G14 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Information and Market Efficiency; Event Studies; Insider Trading

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