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Investment, idiosyncratic risk, and ownership

  • Vasia Panousi
  • Dimitris Papanikolaou

High-powered incentives may induce higher managerial effort, but they also expose managers to idiosyncratic risk. If managers are risk averse, they might underinvest when firm-specific uncertainty increases, leading to suboptimal investment decisions from the perspective of well-diversified shareholders. We empirically document that when idiosyncratic risk rises, firm investment falls, and more so when managers own a larger fraction of the firm. This negative effect of managerial risk aversion on investment is mitigated if executives are compensated with options rather than with shares or if institutional investors form a large part of the shareholder base.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2011-54.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2011-54
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