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Anticipating the financial crisis: Evidence from insider trading in banks

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Abstract

Banking crises are recurrent phenomena, often induced by excessive bank risk-taking, which may be due to behavioural reasons (over-optimistic banks neglecting risks) and to conflicts of interest between bank shareholders/managers and debtholders/taxpayers (banks exploiting moral hazard). We test whether US banks' stock returns in the 2007-08 financial crisis are associated with bank insiders' sales of their own bank’s shares in the period prior to 2006Q2 (the peak and reversal in real estate prices). We find that top-five executives' sales of shares predict bank performance during the crisis. Interestingly, effects are insignificant for the sales of independent directors and other officers. Moreover, the top-five executives' impact is stronger for banks with higher exposure to the real estate bubble, where a one standard deviation increase of insider sales is associated with a 13.33 percentage point drop in stock returns during the crisis period. Finally, even though bankers in riskier banks sold more shares (furthering their own interests), they did not change their bank’s policies, e.g. by reducing bank-level exposure to real estate. The informational content of bank insider trading before the crisis suggests that insiders knew that their banks were taking excessive risks, which has important implications for theory, public policy, and the understanding of crises, as well as a supervisory tool for early warning signals.

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  • Ozlem Akin & José M. Marín & José-Luis Peydró, 2016. "Anticipating the financial crisis: Evidence from insider trading in banks," Economics Working Papers 1524, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1524
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Financial crises; insider trading; banking; risk-taking; agency problems in firms.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • G02 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Behavioral Finance: Underlying Principles
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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