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Ranking, risk-taking and effort: an analysis of the ECB's foreign reserves management

  • Scalia, Antonio
  • Sahel, Benjamin

The investment of the ECB reserves in US dollars and yen, delegated to a network of portfolio managers in the Eurosystem’s national central banks, involves a periodic assessment of performance against a common benchmark, controlled by the ECB and subject to revision on a monthly basis. Monetary reward for the best performers is almost entirely absent, and compensation comes mainly as reputational credit following the transmission of the annual report to the Governing Council. Employing a new data set on individual portfolio variables during 2002-2009, we study this peculiar tournament and show the existence of risk-shifting behaviour by reserve managers related to their year-to-date ranking: interim losers increase relative risk in the second half of the year, in the same way as mutual fund managers. In the dollar case, risk-shifting is asymmetric: the adjustment to ranking is generally reduced or entirely offset if reserve managers have achieved a positive interim performance against the benchmark. Yen reserve managers that rank low show a tendency to increase effort, as proxied by portfolio turnover. We also find that reserve managers who ranked low in the previous year tend to reduce risk significantly. Our evidence is consistent with a reserve managers’ anecdote, according to which they obtain a concave reputational reward within their national central banks, which induces risk aversion and explains the observed low usage of the risk budget. Since reserve managers should have a comparative advantage over the tactical benchmark within a monthly horizon, possible enhancements to the design of the tournament are discussed. These might involve an increased reward for effort and performance by means of a convex scoring system linked to monthly, rather than annual, performance. JEL Classification: G11, E58, D81

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1377.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20111377
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  1. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Michael L. Bognanno, 1988. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," NBER Working Papers 2638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kempf, Alexander & Ruenzi, Stefan & Thiele, Tanja, 2008. "Employment risk, compensation incentives and managerial risk taking: Evidence from the mutual fund industry," CFR Working Papers 07-02, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  3. Basak, Suleyman & Makarov, Dmitry, 2012. "Difference in interim performance and risk taking with short-sale constraints," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 377-392.
  4. Jennifer Koski & Jeffrey Pontiff, 1996. "How Are Derivatives Used? Evidence from the Mutual Fund Industry," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 96-27, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Suleyman Basak & Anna Pavlova & Alexander Shapiro, 2007. "Optimal Asset Allocation and Risk Shifting in Money Management," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 20(5), pages 1583-1621, 2007 21.
  6. Florian Ederer, 2010. "Feedback and Motivation in Dynamic Tournaments," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 733-769, 09.
  7. Goriaev, Alexei & Nijman, Theo E. & Werker, Bas J. M., 2005. "Yet another look at mutual fund tournaments," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 127-137, January.
  8. Goriaev, Alexei P. & Palomino, Frédéric & Prat, Andrea, 2001. "Mutual Fund Tournament: Risk Taking Incentives Induced By Ranking Objectives," CEPR Discussion Papers 2794, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521518567 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Jennifer Huang & Clemens Sialm & Hanjiang Zhang, 2011. "Risk Shifting and Mutual Fund Performance," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(8), pages 2575-2616.
  11. Alexander Kempf & Stefan Ruenzi, 2004. "Tournaments in Mutual Fund Families," Finance 0404011, EconWPA.
  12. repec:dgr:kubcen:200094 is not listed on IDEAS
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  14. Stracca, Livio, 2005. "Delegated portfolio management: a survey of the theoretical literature," Working Paper Series 0520, European Central Bank.
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