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The (ir)resistible rise of agency rents

  • Biais, Bruno
  • Landier, Augustin

The rents agents can extract from principals increase with the magnitude of incentive problems, which the literature usually takes as given. We endogenize it, by allowing agents to choose technologies that are more or less opaque and correspondingly prone to agency problems. In our overlapping generations model, agents compete with their predecessors. We study whether the presence of old- timers earning low rents can keep young managers’rent-seeking in check. With dynamic contracts, long horizons help principals incentivize agents. Hence, old agents are imperfect substitutes for young ones. This mutes down competition between generations, especially if compensation deferral is strong. As a result, young managers can opt for more opaque and complex technologies, and therefore larger rents, than their predecessors. Thus, in equilibrium, complexity and rents rise over time.

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Paper provided by Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse in its series IDEI Working Papers with number 788.

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Date of creation: May 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:27436
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  1. Holmström, Bengt & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds and the Real Sector," IDEI Working Papers 40, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  2. Sanford Grossman & Oliver Hart, . "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 15-80, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
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  5. Carlin, Bruce I., 2009. "Strategic price complexity in retail financial markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3), pages 278-287, March.
  6. Diamond, Douglas W, 1984. "Financial Intermediation and Delegated Monitoring," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 393-414, July.
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  8. Bolton, Patrick & Scharfstein, David S, 1990. "A Theory of Predation Based on Agency Problems in Financial Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 93-106, March.
  9. Biais, Bruno & Mariotti, Thomas & Plantin, Guillaume & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2004. "Dynamic Security Design: Convergence to Continuous Time and Asset Pricing Implications," IDEI Working Papers 312, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Sep 2006.
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