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A Model of Optimal Government Bailouts

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  • Bernardo, Antonio
  • Talley, Eric
  • Welch, Ivo

Abstract

We analyze incentive-efficient government bailouts within a canonical model of intra-firm moral hazard. Bailouts exacerbate the moral hazard of firms and managers in two ways. First, they make them less averse to failing. Second, the taxes to fund bailouts dampen their incentives. Nevertheless, if third-party externalities from keeping the firm alive are strong, bailouts can improve welfare. Our model suggests that governments should use bailouts sparingly, where social externalities are large and subsidies small; eliminate incumbent owners and managers to improve a priori incentives; and finance bailouts through redistributive taxes on productive firms instead of forcing recipients to repay in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Bernardo, Antonio & Talley, Eric & Welch, Ivo, 2011. "A Model of Optimal Government Bailouts," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt8wv4p90c, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:oplwec:qt8wv4p90c
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary Gorton & Lixin Huang, 2004. "Liquidity, Efficiency, and Bank Bailouts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 455-483, June.
    2. Tirole, Jean, 1994. "The Internal Organization of Government," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(1), pages 1-29, January.
    3. Chan, Yuk-Shee & Greenbaum, Stuart I & Thakor, Anjan V, 1992. " Is Fairly Priced Deposit Insurance Possible?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(1), pages 227-245, March.
    4. Philippe Aghion, Patrick Bolton & Steven Fries, 1999. "Optimal Design of Bank Bailouts: The Case of Transition Economies," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 155(1), pages 1-51, March.
    5. Thomas Philippon & Vasiliki Skreta, 2012. "Optimal Interventions in Markets with Adverse Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 1-28, February.
    6. Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram G. Rajan, 2005. "Liquidity Shortages and Banking Crises," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(2), pages 615-647, April.
    7. Calomiris, Charles W., 1999. "Building an incentive-compatible safety net," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(10), pages 1499-1519, October.
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    Keywords

    Government Bailout; Moral Hazard; Law;

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