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Some Unpleasant General Equilibrium Implications of Executive Incentive Compensation Contracts

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  • John B. Donaldson
  • Natalia Gershun
  • Marc P. Giannoni

Abstract

We consider a simple variant of the standard real business cycle model in which shareholders hire a self-interested executive to manage the firm on their behalf. Delegation gives rise to a generic conflict of interest mediated by a convex (option-like) compensation contract which is able to align the interests of managers and their shareholders. With such a compensation contract, a given increase in the firm's output generated by an additional unit of physical investment results in a more than proportional increase in the manager's income. We find that incentive contracts of this form can easily result in an indeterminate general equilibrium, with business cycles driven by self-fulfilling fluctuations in the manager's expectations. These expectations are unrelated to fundamentals. Arbitrarily large fluctuations in macroeconomic variables may possibly result.

Suggested Citation

  • John B. Donaldson & Natalia Gershun & Marc P. Giannoni, 2009. "Some Unpleasant General Equilibrium Implications of Executive Incentive Compensation Contracts," NBER Working Papers 15165, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15165
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    1. Nicola: don't forget the day job!
      by Brian Ashcroft in Scottish Economy Watch on 2012-09-06 21:13:31

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen McKnight & Laura Povoledo, 2015. "Can indeterminacy and self-fulfilling expectations help explain international business cycles?," Working Papers 20151504, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    2. Jean-Pierre Danthine & John Donaldson, 2015. "Executive Compensation: A General Equilibrium Perspective," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(2), pages 269-286, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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