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Competition for traders and risk

  • Michiel Bijlsma


  • Gijsbert Zwart


  • Jan Boone

The financial crisis has been attributed partly to perverse incentives for traders at banks and has led policy makers to propose regulation of banks' remuneration packages. We explain why poor incentives for traders cannot be fully resolved by only regulating the bank's top executives, and why direct intervention in trader compensation is called for. We present a model with both trader moral hazard and adverse selection on trader abilities. We demonstrate that as competition on the labour market for traders intensifies, banks optimally offer top traders contracts inducing them to take more risk, even if banks fully internalize the costs of negative outcomes. In this way, banks can reduce the surplus they have to offer to lower ability traders. In addition, we find that increasing banks' capital requirements does not unambiguously lead to reduced risk-taking by their top traders.

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Paper provided by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in its series CPB Discussion Paper with number 204.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:204
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  1. Martin Hellwig, 2007. "A Reconsideration of the Jensen-Meckling Model of Outside Finance," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2007_8, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
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  3. Timothy Besley & Maitreesh Ghatak, 2011. "Taxation and Regulation of Bonus Pay," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 030, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  4. John Thanassoulis, 2011. "Bankers' Pay Structure And Risk," Economics Series Working Papers 545, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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  6. Kashyap, Anil K. & Rajan, Raghuram G. & Stein, Jeremy C., 2008. "Rethinking capital regulation," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 431-471.
  7. Bruno Biais & Catherine Casamatta, 1999. "Optimal Leverage and Aggregate Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1291-1323, 08.
  8. John Thanassoulis, 2011. "The Case For Intervening In Bankers' Pay," Economics Series Working Papers 532, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
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