IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Caught between Scylla and Charybdis? Regulating bank leverage when there is rent seeking and risk shifting

  • Viral V. Acharya
  • Hamid Mehran
  • Anjan V. Thakor

Banks face two moral hazard problems: asset substitution by shareholders (e.g., making risky, negative net present value loans) and managerial rent seeking (e.g., investing in inefficient “pet” projects or simply being lazy and uninnovative). The privately-optimal level of bank leverage is neither too low nor too high: It balances effi ciently the market discipline imposed by owners of risky debt on managerial rent-seeking against the asset-substitution induced at high levels of leverage. However, when correlated bank failures can impose significant social costs, regulators may bail out bank creditors. Anticipation of this generates an equilibrium featuring systemic risk in which all banks choose inefficiently high leverage to fund correlated assets. A minimum equity capital requirement can rule out asset substitution but also compromises market discipline by making bank debt too safe. The optimal capital regulation requires that a part of bank capital be unavailable to creditors upon failure, and be available to shareholders only contingent on good performance.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: Full text
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in its series Working Paper with number 1024.

in new window

Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:1024
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1455 East 6th St., Cleveland OH 44114
Phone: 216.579.2000
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Douglas W. Diamond & Raghuram G. Rajan, . "Liquidity Risk, Liquidity Creation and Financial Fragility: A Theory of Banking," CRSP working papers 476, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  2. Acharya, Viral V & Pedersen, Lasse H & Philippon, Thomas & Richardson, Matthew P, 2012. "Measuring Systemic Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 8824, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Jean Tirole & Emmanuel Farhi, 2009. "Collective Moral Hazard, Maturity Mismatch and Systemic Bailouts," Working Papers 2009.57, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  4. Merton, Robert C., 1977. "An analytic derivation of the cost of deposit insurance and loan guarantees An application of modern option pricing theory," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 3-11, June.
  5. Acharya, Viral V, 2009. "A Theory of Systemic Risk and Design of Prudential Bank Regulation," CEPR Discussion Papers 7164, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1991. "A Theory of Debt Based on the Inalienability of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 3906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
  8. Bruno Biais & Catherine Casamatta, 1999. "Optimal Leverage and Aggregate Investment," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1291-1323, 08.
  9. Calzolari, Giacomo & Loranth, Gyongyi, 2011. "Regulation of multinational banks: A theoretical inquiry," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 178-198, April.
  10. Rochet, Jean-Charles & Villeneuve, Stéphane, 2011. "Liquidity management and corporate demand for hedging and insurance," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 303-323, July.
  11. Darrell Duffie, 2010. "A Contractual Approach to Restructuring Financial Institutions," Book Chapters, in: Kenneth E. Scott & George P. Shultz & John B. Taylor (ed.), Ending Government Bailouts As We Know Them, chapter 6 Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
  12. Acharya, Viral V. & Yorulmazer, Tanju, 2007. "Too many to fail--An analysis of time-inconsistency in bank closure policies," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 1-31, January.
  13. Allen, Franklin & Carletti, Elena, 2005. "Credit risk transfer and contagion," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/25, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  14. Jensen, Michael C, 1986. "Agency Costs of Free Cash Flow, Corporate Finance, and Takeovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 323-29, May.
  15. Hart, Oliver & Zingales, Luigi, 2009. "A New Capital Regulation For Large Financial Institutions," CEPR Discussion Papers 7298, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Viral V. Acharya & Tanju Yorulmazer, 2008. "Cash-in-the-Market Pricing and Optimal Resolution of Bank Failures," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(6), pages 2705-2742, November.
  17. Memmel, Christoph & Raupach, Peter, 2010. "How do banks adjust their capital ratios?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 509-528, October.
  18. Mathias Dewatripont & Jean Tirole, 1994. "The prudential regulation of banks," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9539, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  19. Joseph G. Haubrich & Andrew W. Lo, 2013. "Quantifying Systemic Risk," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number haub10-1, July.
  20. Townsend, Robert M., 1979. "Optimal contracts and competitive markets with costly state verification," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 265-293, October.
  21. George Pennacchi, 2010. "A structural model of contingent bank capital," Working Paper 1004, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  22. Viral V. Acharya & S. Viswanathan, 2010. "Leverage, Moral Hazard and Liquidity," NBER Working Papers 15837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Stulz, ReneM., 1990. "Managerial discretion and optimal financing policies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 3-27, July.
  24. Hamid Mehran & Anjan Thakor, 2009. "Bank capital and value in the cross section," Staff Reports 390, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  25. Bhattacharya Sudipto & Thakor Anjan V., 1993. "Contemporary Banking Theory," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 2-50, October.
  26. Admati, Anat R. & DeMarzo, Peter M. & Hellwig, Martin F. & Pfleiderer, Paul, 2010. "Fallacies, Irrelevant Facts, and Myths in the Discussion of Capital Regulation: Why Bank Equity Is Not Expensive," Research Papers 2065, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  27. Edward Kane, 2010. "Redefining and Containing Systemic Risk," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 38(3), pages 251-264, September.
  28. Alex Edmans & Qi Liu, 2011. "Inside Debt," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 15(1), pages 75-102.
  29. 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.
  30. Calomiris, Charles W & Kahn, Charles M, 1991. "The Role of Demandable Debt in Structuring Optimal Banking Arrangements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 497-513, June.
  31. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1992. " Liquidation Values and Debt Capacity: A Market Equilibrium Approach," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 47(4), pages 1343-66, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:1024. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lee Faulhaber)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.