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Increased-Liability Equity: A Proposal to Improve Capital Regulation of Large Financial Institutions

Author

Listed:
  • Admati, Anat R.

    (Stanford University)

  • Pfleiderer, Paul

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

While it is recognized that the high degree of leverage used by financial institutions creates systemic risks and other negative externalities, many argue that financial institutions must rely on extensive debt financing since equity financing is "expensive." Some of the reasons debt is attractive to financial institutions, such as tax benefits and implicit guarantees, are due to subsidies that exacerbate the negative externalities associated with leverage, and are therefore not legitimate from a public policy perspective. Another argument given for high levels of debt financing is that debt serves as a disciplining device for managers who would otherwise make suboptimal or wasteful investment decisions. We propose a mechanism that allows financial institutions to maintain the contractual obligations of debt while avoiding or reducing many of the costs associated with it, including deadweight bankruptcy costs, agency costs due to risk shifting, and under-investment associated with debt overhang. Essentially, we propose a way to increase the liability of the equity issued by the financial institution without changing the limited-liability nature of publicly-held securities. The increased liability is backed by a proposed "Equity Liability Carrier," which holds the increased-liability equity of the financial institution as well as safe liquid assets. In addition to reducing or eliminating the agency problems associated with leverage, this structure concentrates the incentives to monitor and control managers within equity holders, and reduces the need for inefficient liquidation, implicit guarantees and bailouts. Our proposal can be viewed as a way for regulators to impose effectively higher capital requirements, while allowing financial institutions to undertake significant debt commitments.

Suggested Citation

  • Admati, Anat R. & Pfleiderer, Paul, 2009. "Increased-Liability Equity: A Proposal to Improve Capital Regulation of Large Financial Institutions," Research Papers 2043, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2043
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    File URL: http://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP2043.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas Philippon & Philipp Schnabl, 2013. "Efficient Recapitalization," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 68(1), pages 1-42, February.
    2. Grossman, Richard S, 2001. "Double Liability and Bank Risk Taking," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(2), pages 143-159, May.
    3. PETER M. DeMARZO & YULIY SANNIKOV, 2006. "Optimal Security Design and Dynamic Capital Structure in a Continuous-Time Agency Model," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(6), pages 2681-2724, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Grodecka, Anna & Kotidis, Antonis, 2016. "Double Liability in a Branch Banking System: Historical Evidence from Canada," Working Paper Series 316, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
    2. Acharya, Viral V. & Mehran, Hamid & Thakor, Anjan V., 2010. "Caught between Scylla and Charybdis? Regulating bank leverage when there is rent seeking and risk shifting," Staff Reports 469, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, revised 01 Dec 2014.
    3. repec:oup:rcorpf:v:5:y:2016:i:1:p:36-75. is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Barucci, Emilio & Del Viva, Luca, 2012. "Countercyclical contingent capital," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 1688-1709.
    5. Josef Schroth, 2012. "Financial Crisis Resolution," Staff Working Papers 12-42, Bank of Canada.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H81 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Governmental Loans; Loan Guarantees; Credits; Grants; Bailouts
    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law

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