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Looking beyond the CEO: executive compensation at banks

  • Rebecca S. Demsetz
  • Marc R. Saidenberg
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    The literature on executive compensation at banks has proceeded largely under the assumption that a single elasticity can adequately describe the sensitivity of executive pay to firm performance, but theories of performance based pay and tournament pay suggest that this assumption may be incorrect. We test the single-elasticity assumption by comparing the components of compensation and the pay-performance relationship across banks with different characteristics and bank executives of different positions. We find that the structure of compensation varies significantly across firms, with firm size being an important explanatory firm characteristic. The structure of compensation also varies across executive positions, but only after controlling for differences across firms. These patterns translate into significant differences in pay-performance relationships across firms, with size being the distinguishing firm characteristic. Differences across executives are less robust. There is some evidence that CEO stature enhances pay-performance sensitivity at the largest banks in our sample, but the non-base pay components of CEO compensation are apparently less performance sensitive than their labels would suggest.

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    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 68.

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    Date of creation: 1999
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:68
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    1. Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1991. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 3792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Crawford, Anthony J & Ezzell, John R & Miles, James A, 1995. "Bank CEO Pay-Performance Relations and the Effects of Deregulation," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 68(2), pages 231-56, April.
    3. Robert Gibbons & Kevin Murphy, 1989. "Relative Performance Evaluation for Chief Executive Officers," Working Papers 628, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    4. Murphy, Kevin J., 2000. "Performance standards in incentive contracts," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 245-278, December.
    5. Hubbard, R. Glenn & Palia, Darius, 1995. "Executive pay and performance Evidence from the U.S. banking industry," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 105-130, September.
    6. Garen, John E, 1994. "Executive Compensation and Principal-Agent Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1175-99, December.
    7. Barro, Jason R & Barro, Robert J, 1990. "Pay, Performance, and Turnover of Bank CEOs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(4), pages 448-81, October.
    8. Scott Schaefer, 1998. "The Dependence Of Pay--Performance Sensitivity On The Size Of The Firm," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(3), pages 436-443, August.
    9. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-64, October.
    10. Murphy, Kevin J., 1999. "Executive compensation," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 38, pages 2485-2563 Elsevier.
    11. Donald P. Morgan, 1998. "Judging the risk of banks: what makes banks opaque?," Research Paper 9805, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    12. Houston, Joel F. & James, Christopher, 1995. "CEO compensation and bank risk Is compensation in banking structured to promote risk taking?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 405-431, November.
    13. Jensen, M.C. & Murphy, K.J., 1988. "Performance Pay And Top Management Incentives," Papers 88-04, Rochester, Business - Managerial Economics Research Center.
    14. Kevin J. Murphy, 1986. "Incentives, Learning, and Compensation: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of Managerial Labor Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 59-76, Spring.
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