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Large risks, limited liability, and dynamic moral hazard

  • Bruno Biais

    ()

    (CRM Centre de Recherches en Management - 2 rue du Doyen Gabriel Marty - 31042 Toulouse Cedex 9 FR, Université des Sciences Sociales (Toulouse 1))

  • Thomas Mariotti

    (GREMAQ Groupe de recherche en économie mathématique et quantitative - manufacture des tabacs - bat. F 21 Allée de Brienne 31000 TOULOUSE FR, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)

  • Jean-Charles Rochet

    ()

    (Groupe de Recherche en Economie Mathématique et Quantitative, INRA)

  • Stéphane Villeneuve

    ()

    (CRM Centre de Recherches en Management - 2 rue du Doyen Gabriel Marty - 31042 Toulouse Cedex 9 FR, Université des Sciences Sociales (Toulouse 1))

We study a continuous-time principal-agent model in which a risk-neutral agent with limited liability must exert unobservable effort to reduce the likelihood of large but relatively infrequent losses. Firm size can be decreased at no cost or increased subject to adjustment costs. In the optimal contract, investment takes place only if a long enough period of time elapses with no losses occurring. Then, if good performance continues, the agent is paid. As soon as a loss occurs, payments to the agent are suspended, and so is investment if further losses occur. Accumulated bad performance leads to downsizing. We derive explicit formulae for the dynamics of firm size and its asymptotic growth rate, and we provide conditions under which firm size eventually goes to zero or grows without bounds.

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Paper provided by Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, France in its series Working Papers with number 245707.

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Length: 73-118
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Econometrica
Handle: RePEc:inr:wpaper:245707
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  1. 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.
  2. Thomas, Jonathan & Worrall, Tim, 1990. "Income fluctuation and asymmetric information: An example of a repeated principal-agent problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 367-390, August.
  3. Sraer, David & Thesmar, David, 2004. "Performance and Behaviour of Family Firms: Evidence from the French Stock Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 4520, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Abreu, Dilip & Milgrom, Paul & Pearce, David, 1991. "Information and Timing in Repeated Partnerships," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1713-33, November.
  5. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-28, March.
  6. Gian Luca Clementi & Hugo Hopenhayn, 2002. "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," RCER Working Papers 492, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  7. Duffie, Darrell & Lando, David, 2001. "Term Structures of Credit Spreads with Incomplete Accounting Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(3), pages 633-64, May.
  8. Peter M. DeMarzo & Michael J. Fishman, 2007. "Optimal Long-Term Financial Contracting," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 20(6), pages 2079-2128, November.
  9. Biais, Bruno & Mariotti, Thomas & Plantin, Guillaume & Rochet, Jean-Charles, 2004. "Dynamic Security Design," CEPR Discussion Papers 4753, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Bengt Holmstrom & Jean Tirole, 1994. "Financial Intermediation, Loanable Funds and the Real Sector," Working papers 95-1, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Polborn, Mattias K., 1998. "Mandatory insurance and the judgment-proof problem," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 141-146, June.
  12. Yuliy Sannikov & Andrzej Skrzypacz, 2010. "The Role of Information in Repeated Games With Frequent Actions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 847-882, 05.
  13. Jost, Peter-J., 1996. "Limited liability and the requirement to purchase insurance," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 259-276, June.
  14. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  15. George A. Akerlof & Lawrence F. Katz, 1988. "Workers' Trust Funds and the Logic of Wage Profiles," NBER Working Papers 2548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Shavell, S., 1986. "The judgment proof problem," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 45-58, June.
  17. PETER M. DeMARZO & YULIY SANNIKOV, 2006. "Optimal Security Design and Dynamic Capital Structure in a Continuous-Time Agency Model," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 61(6), pages 2681-2724, December.
  18. Steven Shavell, 2000. "On the Social Function and the Regulation of Liability Insurance," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 25(2), pages 166-179, April.
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