Environmental Risks : Should Banks Be Liable?
This paper studies the impact of banks' liability for environmental damages caused by their borrowers. Laws or court decisions that declare banks liable for environmental damages have two objectives : (1) finding someone to pay for the damages and (2) exerting a pressure on a firm's stakeholders to incite them to invest in environmental risk prevention. We study the effect that such legal decisions can have on financing relationships and especially on the incentives to reduce environmental risk in an environment where banks cannot commit to refinance the firm in all circumstances. Following an environmental accident, liable banks more readily agree to refinance the firm. We then show that bank liability effectively makes refinancing more attractive to banks, therefore improving the firm's risk-sharing possibilities. Consequently, the firm's incentives to invest in environmental risk reduction are weakened compared to the (bank) no-liability case. We also show that, when banks are liable, the firm invests at the full-commitment optimal level of risk reduction investment. If there are some externalities such that some damages cannot be accounted for, the socially efficient level of investment is greater than the privately optimal one. in that case, making banks non-liable can be socially desirable.
|Date of creation:||1998|
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- Jonathan Thomas & Tim Worrall, 1988. "Self-Enforcing Wage Contracts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(4), pages 541-554.
- Marcel Boyer & Jean-Jacques Laffont, 1995.
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CIRANO Working Papers
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- Boyer, Marcel & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1997. "Environmental risks and bank liability," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1427-1459, August.
- Boyer, Marcel & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1994. "Environmental Risks and Bank Liability," IDEI Working Papers 45, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
- Boyer, M. & Laffont, J.J., 1995. "Environmental Risks and Bank Liability," Cahiers de recherche 9501, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
- Boyer, M. & Laffont, J.J., 1995. "Environmental Risks and Bank Liability," Cahiers de recherche 9501, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
- Marcel Boyer & Jean-Jacques Laffont, 1994. "Environmental Risks and Bank Liability," CIRANO Working Papers 94s-22, CIRANO.
- Pitchford, Rohan, 1995. "How Liable Should a Lender Be? The Case of Judgment-Proof Firms and Environmental Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1171-1186, December. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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