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Shareholder Liability Regimes, Principal-Agent Relationships, and Banking Industry Performance

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  • Evans, Lewis T
  • Quigley, Neil C

Abstract

We develop an interpretation of the economics of alternative shareholder liability regimes that challenges the view that limited liability always represents the most efficient form of corporate organization. Unlimited liability will prevail when creditors are willing to compensate shareholders for bearing all of the costs of monitoring management and the risk associated with the activities of the firm. When the information about the financial position of the firm that is required to facilitate increased risk-bearing by creditors can be provided at costs lower than those associated with unlimited liability, firms will incorporate. Scottish banking in the nineteenth century provides unique data on the operation of a market in which firms with limited and unlimited liability competed, on the risk premium associated with unlimited liability shares, and on the innovations in information provision that facilitated the move from unlimited to multiple liability. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Evans, Lewis T & Quigley, Neil C, 1995. "Shareholder Liability Regimes, Principal-Agent Relationships, and Banking Industry Performance," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 497-520, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:38:y:1995:i:2:p:497-520
    DOI: 10.1086/467340
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hendrickson, Joshua R. & Salter, Alexander W., 2018. "Going beyond monetary constitutions: The congruence of money and finance," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 22-28.
    2. Graeme G. Acheson & John D. Turner, 2011. "Investor behaviour in a nascent capital market: Scottish bank shareholders in the nineteenth century," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(1), pages 188-213, February.
    3. John D. Turner, 2009. "Wider share ownership?: investors in English and Welsh Bank shares in the nineteenth century1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 62(s1), pages 167-192, August.
    4. Barakat, Ahmed & Chernobai, Anna & Wahrenburg, Mark, 2014. "Information asymmetry around operational risk announcements," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 152-179.
    5. Joshua R. Hendrickson, 2014. "Contingent Liability, Capital Requirements, and Financial Reform," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 34(1), pages 129-144, Winter.
    6. Haelim Anderson & Daniel Barth & Dong Beom Choi, 2018. "Reducing moral hazard at the expense of market discipline: the effectiveness of double liability before and during the Great Depression," Staff Reports 869, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    7. Howard Bodenhorn, 2015. "Double Liability at Early American Banks," NBER Working Papers 21494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Hickson, Charles R. & Turner, John D. & McCann, Claire, 2005. "Much ado about nothing: the limitation of liability and the market for 19th century Irish bank stock," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 459-476, July.
    9. Thomas H. Noe & Stephen D. Smith, 1997. "The buck stops where? The role of limited liability in economics," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, vol. 82(Q 1), pages 46-56.
    10. Kane, Edward J. & Wilson, Berry, 2002. "Regression evidence of safety-net support in Canada and the U.S., 1893-1992," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 649-671.
    11. Salter, Alexander W. & Veetil, Vipin & White, Lawrence H., 2017. "Extended shareholder liability as a means to constrain moral hazard in insured banks," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 153-160.
    12. Acheson, Graeme G. & Turner, John D., 2008. "The death blow to unlimited liability in Victorian Britain: The City of Glasgow failure," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 235-253, July.

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