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Optimal Short-Termism

Author

Listed:
  • Hackbarth, Dirk
  • Rivera, Alejandro
  • Wong, Tak-Yuen

Abstract

This paper studies incentives in a dynamic contracting framework of a levered firm. In particular, the manager selects long-term and short-term efforts, while shareholders choose initially optimal leverage and ex-post optimal default policies. There are three results. First, shareholders trade off the benefits of short-termism (current cash flows) against the benefits of higher growth from long-term effort (future cash flows), but because shareholders only split the latter with bondholders, they find short-termism ex-post optimal. Second, bright (grim) growth prospects imply lower (higher) optimal levels of short-termism. Third, the endogenous default threshold rises with the substitutability of tasks and, for a positive correlation of shocks, the endogenous default threshold is hump-shaped in the volatility of permanent shocks, but increases monotonically with the volatility of transitory shocks. Finally, we quantify agency costs of short-term and long-term effort, cost of short-termism, effects of investor time horizons, credit spreads, and risk-shifting.

Suggested Citation

  • Hackbarth, Dirk & Rivera, Alejandro & Wong, Tak-Yuen, 2018. "Optimal Short-Termism," CEPR Discussion Papers 12588, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12588
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gryglewicz, Sebastian & Mayer, Simon & Morellec, Erwan, 2018. "Agency Conflicts over the Short and Long Run: Short-termism, Long-termism, and Pay-for-Luck," CEPR Discussion Papers 12720, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Gryglewicz, Sebastian & Mayer, Simon & Morellec, Erwan, 2020. "Agency conflicts and short- versus long-termism in corporate policies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(3), pages 718-742.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Capital Structure; Contracting; Multi-tasking;

    JEL classification:

    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • G13 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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