Bank Bonuses and Bail-outs
This paper shows that bonus contracts may arise endogenously as a response to agency problems within banks, and analyzes how compensation schemes change in reaction to anticipated bail-outs. If there is a risk-shifting problem, bail-out expectations lead to steeper bonus schemes and even more risk-taking. If there is an effort problem, the compensation scheme becomes flatter and effort decreases. If both types of agency problems are present, a sufficiently large increase in bail-out perceptions makes it optimal for a welfare-maximizing regulator to impose caps on bank bonuses. In contrast, raising managers’ liability is counterproductive.
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