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Risk Taking and Optimal Contracts for Money Managers

  • Palomino, Frédéric
  • Prat, Andrea

Recent empirical work suggests a strong connection between the incentives money managers are offered and their risk-taking behavior. We develop a general model of delegated portfolio management, with the feature that the agent can control the riskiness of the portfolio. This represents a departure from the existing literature on agency theory in that moral hazard is not only effort exertion but also risk taking behavior. The moral hazard problem with risk taking involves an incentive-compatibility constraint on risk, which we characterize. We distinguish between one period and several periods. In the former case, under mild conditions, there exists a first-best contract which takes the form of a bonus contract. In the latter, we show that there exists no first-best contract and we use a numerical approximation to study the properties of the second-best contract.Recent empirical work suggests a strong connection between the incentives money managers are offered and their risk-taking behavior. We develop a general model of delegated portfolio management, with the feature that the agent can control the riskiness of the portfolio. This represents a departure from the existing literature on agency theory in that moral hazard is not only effort exertion but also risk taking behavior. The moral hazard problem with risk taking involves an incentive-compatibility constraint on risk, which we characterize. We distinguish between one period and several periods. In the former case, under mild conditions, there exists a first-best contract which takes the form of a bonus contract. In the latter, we show that there exists no first-best contract and we use a numerical approximation to study the properties of the second-best contract.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 2066.

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Date of creation: Feb 1999
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2066
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  1. Judith A. Chevalier & Glenn D. Ellison, 1995. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," NBER Working Papers 5234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Holmstrom, Bengt & Ricart i Costa, Joan, 1986. "Managerial Incentives and Capital Management," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 835-60, November.
  3. Heinkel, Robert & Stoughton, Neal M, 1994. "The Dynamics of Portfolio Management Contracts," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 7(2), pages 351-87.
  4. Sappington, David, 1983. "Limited liability contracts between principal and agent," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-21, February.
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  8. Jewitt, Ian, 1988. "Justifying the First-Order Approach to Principal-Agent Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(5), pages 1177-90, September.
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  10. Oliver Hart & Bengt Holmstrom, 1986. "The Theory of Contracts," Working papers 418, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-28, March.
  12. Bhattacharya, Sudipto & Pfleiderer, Paul, 1985. "Delegated portfolio management," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 1-25, June.
  13. Susan I. Cohen & Laura T. Starks, 1988. "Estimation Risk and Incentive Contracts for Portfolio Managers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 34(9), pages 1067-1079, September.
  14. Sanford J Grossman & Oliver D Hart, 2001. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Levine's Working Paper Archive 391749000000000339, David K. Levine.
  15. Innes, Robert D., 1990. "Limited liability and incentive contracting with ex-ante action choices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 45-67, October.
  16. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
  17. Sanjiv Ranjan Das & Rangarajan K. Sundaram, 1998. "On the Regulation of Fee Structures in Mutual Funds," NBER Working Papers 6639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Mark Grinblatt & Sheridan Titman, . "Adverse Risk Incentives and the Design of Performance-Based Contracts," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 21-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  19. Matutes, Carmen & Vives, Xavier, 1996. "Competition for Deposits, Fragility, and Insurance," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 184-216, April.
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