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Insider trading, costly monitoring, and managerial incentives

  • Jie Hu
  • Thomas H. Noe

In this paper we show, in an incomplete contracts framework that combines asymmetric information and moral hazard, that by permitting insiders to trade on personal account the equilibrium level of output can be increased and shareholder welfare can be improved. There are two reasons for this. First, insider trading impounds information regarding the costs and benefits of effort and perk consumption into asset prices, which allows shareholders to choose more efficient portfolio allocations. Second, allowing insider trading can induce managers to increase their stake in the firm beyond that obtained through bargaining with shareholders. This effect leads to a reduction in managerial perk consumption and/or increased managerial effort. Insider trading can also be costly for shareholders' intermediate range of monitoring costs and project difficulty because, in such cases, the efforts of managers are quite sensitive to the exact level of fractional shareownership, which managers can endogenously change if they are able to trade on personal account. Interestingly, when monitoring and effort costs are low, managers may prefer restrictions on their ability to trade as such restrictions will force shareholders to offer them a larger fraction of output.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. with number 97-2.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Publication status: Published in Journal of Banking and Finance, April 2001
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:97-2
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  1. Hart, Oliver D, 1988. "Incomplete Contracts and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 119-39, Spring.
  2. Manove, Michael, 1989. "The Harm from Insider Trading and Informed Speculation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 823-45, November.
  3. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Fershtman, Chaim, 1994. "Insider Trading and the Managerial Choice among Risky Projects," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(01), pages 1-14, March.
  4. Hayne E. Leland., 1990. "Insider Trading: Should It Be Prohibited?," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-195, University of California at Berkeley.
  5. Aghion, Philippe & Dewatripont, Mathias & Rey, Patrick, 1994. "Renegotiation Design with Unverifiable Information," Scholarly Articles 12375014, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1990. "Insider Trading in a Rational Expectations Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1022-41, December.
  7. Noe, Thomas H, 1997. "Insider Trading and the Problem of Corporate Agency," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 287-318, October.
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