nep-cta New Economics Papers
on Contract Theory and Applications
Issue of 2011‒01‒03
fifteen papers chosen by
Simona Fabrizi
Massey University, Albany

  1. Stairway to Heaven or Highway to Hell: Liquidity, Sweat Equity, and the Uncertain Path to Ownership By R. Vijay Krishna; Giuseppe Lopomo
  2. Financial Innovation and Risk, The Role of Information By Roberto Piazza
  3. Optimal bonuses and deferred pay for bank employees : implications of hidden actions with persistent effects in time By Arantxa Jarque; Edward S. Prescott
  4. Contract Dynamics : Lessons from Empirical Analyses By Magali Chaudey
  5. Composition of International Capital Flows: A Survey By Koralai Kirabaeva; Assaf Razin
  6. Optimal monetary policy in a model of money and credit By Pedro Gomis-Porqueras; Daniel R. Sanches
  7. On the optimality of Ramsey taxes in Mirless economies By Borys Grochulski
  8. Discounts For Qualified Buyers Only By David McAdams
  9. A dynamic model of unsecured credit By Daniel R. Sanches
  10. Caught between Scylla and Charybdis: regulating bank leverage when there is rent seeking and risk shifting By Viral V. Acharya; Hamid Mehran; Anjan V. Thakor
  11. Foreign bank lending and information asymmetries in China By Pessarossi, Pierre; Godlewski, Christophe J.; Weill, Laurent
  12. The Role of the State in Managing and Forestalling Systemic Financial Crises By Adams, Charles
  13. Preparing for Basel IV: why liquidity risks still present a challenge to regulators in prudential supervision By Ojo, Marianne
  14. Risk allocation and incentives for private contractors: an analysis of Italian project financing contracts By Rosalba Cori; Cristina Giorgiantonio; Ilaria Paradisi
  15. The Other Ex-Ante Moral Hazard in Health By Mikko Packalen; Jay Bhattacharya

  1. By: R. Vijay Krishna; Giuseppe Lopomo
    Abstract: A principal contracts optimally with an agent to operate a firm over an infinite time horizon when the agent is liquidity constrained and has access to private information about the sequence of cost realizations. We formulate this mechanism design problem as a recursive dynamic program in which promised utility to the agent is the relevant state variable. By establishing that output distortions and the stringency of liquidity constraints decrease monotonically in promised utility, we are able to interpret the state variable as the agent’s equity in the firm. We establish a bang-bang property of optimal contracts wherein the agent is incentivised only through adjustments to his future utility until achieving a critical level of equity, after which he may be incentivised through cash payments, that is, through instantaneous rents. Thus the incentive scheme resembles what is commonly regarded as a sweat equity contract, with all cash payments net of costs (rents) being back loaded. A critical level of sweat equity occurs when none of the agent’s liquidity constraints bind. At this point, the contract calls for efficient production in all future periods and the agent attains a vested ownership stake in the firm. Finally, properties of the theoretically optimal contract are shown to be similar to features common in real-world work-to-own franchising agreements and venture capital contracts.
    Keywords: liquidity, sweat equity, monotone contract, franchising, venture capital, ownership
    JEL: C61 D82 D86 L26
    Date: 2010
  2. By: Roberto Piazza
    Abstract: Financial innovation has increased diversification opportunities and lowered investment costs, but has not reduced the relative cost of active (informed) investment strategies relative to passive (less informed) strategies. What are the consequences? I study an economy with linear production technologies, some more risky than others. Investors can use low quality public information or collect high quality, but costly, private information. Information helps avoiding excessively risky investments. Financial innovation lowers the incentives for private information collection and deteriorates public information: the economy invests more often in excessively risky technologies. This changes the business cycle properties and can reduce welfare by increasing the likelihood of "liquidation crises"
    Keywords: Business cycles , Data collection , Economic models , Financial risk , Information technology , Investment , Risk management , Securities markets , United States ,
    Date: 2010–11–22
  3. By: Arantxa Jarque; Edward S. Prescott
    Abstract: We present a sequence of two-period models of incentive-based compensation in order to understand how the properties of optimal compensation structures vary with changes in the model environment. Each model corresponds to a different occupation within a bank, such as credit line managers, loan originators, or traders. All models share a common trait: the effects of hidden actions are persistent, and hence are revealed over time. We characterize the corresponding optimal contracts that are consistent with prudent risk taking. We compare the contracts by ranking them according to the average wage, the proportion of deferred compensation, and the structure and importance of variable pay (bonuses). We also compare these characteristics of the models with persistence with those of a standard repeated moral hazard. We find that small changes in the structure of asymmetric information have important implications for the characteristics of optimal pay, and that persistence does not necessarily imply a higher proportion of deferred pay.
    Keywords: Financial institutions ; Financial markets ; Labor market ; Moral hazard
    Date: 2010
  4. By: Magali Chaudey (Université de Lyon, Lyon, F-69003, France ; Université Jean Monnet ; CNRS, GATE Lyon St Etienne, Saint-Etienne, F-42000, France)
    Abstract: The recognition that contracts have a time dimension has given rise to a very abundant literature since the end of the 1980s. In such a dynamic context, the contract may take place over several periods and develop repeated interactions. Then, the principal topics of the analysis are commitment, reputation, memory and the renegotiation of the contract. Few papers have tried to apply the predictions of dynamic contract theory to data. The examples of applications introduced in this article show the relevance of the change from a static contractual framework to a dynamic one. In a dynamic context, contracts are more sophisticated and can include commitment or a better revelation of the type of agent (insurance contract) ; contracts are more flexible (franchise contract) or offer a better measurement of information asymmetry and effort level (insurance or work contract).
    Keywords: Contract, Dynamics, Econometrics, Statistical Tests
    JEL: L14 C01 D81
    Date: 2010
  5. By: Koralai Kirabaeva; Assaf Razin
    Abstract: We survey several key mechanisms that explain the composition of international capital flows: foreign direct investment, foreign portfolio investment and debt flows (bank loans and bonds). In particular, we focus on the following market frictions: asymmetric information in capital markets and exposure to liquidity shocks. We show that the information asymmetry between foreign and domestic investors leads to inefficient investment allocation and borrowing in a country that finances its domestic investment through foreign debt or foreign equity. Exposure to liquidity shocks due to the mismatch of debt maturity may induce banking crises and cause sudden reversals of short-term capital flows. When there is asymmetric information between sellers and buyers in the capital market, then due to the adverse selection foreign direct investment is associated with higher liquidation costs than portfolio investment. The difference in exposure to liquidity shocks (in addition to asymmetric information) can explain the composition of equity flows between developed and emerging countries, and the patterns of foreign direct investments during financial crises.
    Keywords: International topics
    JEL: F21 F34 D82
    Date: 2010
  6. By: Pedro Gomis-Porqueras; Daniel R. Sanches
    Abstract: The authors study optimal monetary policy in a model in which fiat money and private debt coexist as a means of payment. The credit system is endogenous and allows buyers to relax their cash constraints. However, it is costly for agents to publicly report their trades, which is necessary for the enforcement of private liabilities. If it is too costly for the government to obtain information regarding private transactions, then it relies on the public information generated by the private credit system. If not all private transactions are publicly reported, the government has imperfect public information to implement monetary policy. In this case, the authors show that there is no incentive-feasible policy that can implement the socially efficient allocation. Finally, they characterize the optimal policy for an economy with a low record-keeping cost and a large number of public transactions, which results in a positive long-run inflation rate.
    Keywords: Monetary policy ; Disclosure of information
    Date: 2010
  7. By: Borys Grochulski
    Abstract: In this paper, we show that a simple, linear capital tax— the kind used in the Ramsey analysis— can be optimal in a Mirrlees economy with private information. We extend the Mirrlees approach to optimal taxation by studying taxes side-by-side with another institution, rather than in isolation. We consider an implementation in which agents use unsecured credit and personal bankruptcy to obtain insurance. Taxes are levied to fund government expenditures. An optimal tax system consists of lump-sum taxes and a simple Ramsey tax on wealth. In Mirrlees private information environments, optimal capital taxes do not have to be complicated.
    Keywords: Financial markets ; Financial institutions ; Bankruptcy
    Date: 2010
  8. By: David McAdams
    Abstract: The standard monopoly pricing problem is re-considered when the buyer can disclose his type (e.g. age, income, experience) at some cost. In the optimal sales mechanism with costly disclosure, the seller posts a price list, including a \sticker price" available to any buyer and a schedule of discounts available to those who disclose certain types. Unambiguous welfare implications of such a pricing policy are available in the limiting case when the buyer's type is fully informative: (i) The buyer is better o and the monopolist worse o when disclosure is more costly. (ii) When discounts are suciently rare, social welfare is strictly less than if the seller could not oer discounts.
    Date: 2010
  9. By: Daniel R. Sanches
    Abstract: The author studies the terms of credit in a competitive market in which sellers (lenders) are willing to repeatedly finance the purchases of buyers (borrowers) by engaging in a credit relationship. The key frictions are: (i) the lender is unable to observe the borrower's ability to repay a loan; (ii) the borrower cannot commit to any long-term contract; (iii) it is costly for the lender to contact a borrower and to walk away from a contract; and (iv) transactions within each credit relationship are not publicly observable. The lender's optimal contract has two key properties: delayed settlement and debt forgiveness. Asymmetric information gives rise to the property of delayed settlement, which is a contingency in which the lender allows the borrower to defer the repayment of his loan in exchange for more favorable terms of credit within the relationship. This property, together with the borrowers' lack of commitment, gives rise to debt forgiveness. When the borrower's participation constraint binds, the lender needs to "forgive" part of the borrower's debt to keep him in the relationship. Finally, the author studies the impact of the changes in the initial cost of lending on the terms of credit.
    Keywords: Credit ; Contracts
    Date: 2010
  10. By: Viral V. Acharya; Hamid Mehran; Anjan V. Thakor
    Abstract: Banks face two moral hazard problems: asset substitution by shareholders (e.g., making risky, negative net present value loans) and managerial rent seeking (e.g., investing in inefficient “pet” projects or simply being lazy and uninnovative). The privately-optimal level of bank leverage is neither too low nor too high: It balances effi ciently the market discipline imposed by owners of risky debt on managerial rent-seeking against the asset-substitution induced at high levels of leverage. However, when correlated bank failures can impose significant social costs, regulators may bail out bank creditors. Anticipation of this generates an equilibrium featuring systemic risk in which all banks choose inefficiently high leverage to fund correlated assets. A minimum equity capital requirement can rule out asset substitution but also compromises market discipline by making bank debt too safe. The optimal capital regulation requires that a part of bank capital be unavailable to creditors upon failure, and be available to shareholders only contingent on good performance.
    Keywords: Bank capital ; Moral hazard ; Systemic risk
    Date: 2010
  11. By: Pessarossi, Pierre (BOFIT); Godlewski, Christophe J. (BOFIT); Weill, Laurent (BOFIT)
    Abstract: This paper considers whether information asymmetries affect the willingness of foreign banks to participate in syndicated loans to corporate borrowers in China. In line with theoretical literature, ownership concentration of the borrowing firm is assumed to influence information asymmetries in the relationship between the borrower and the lender. We analyze how ownership concentration influences the participation of foreign banks in a loan syndicate using a sample of syndicated loans granted to Chinese borrowers in the period 2004-2009 for which we have information on ownership concentration. We observe that greater ownership concentration of the borrowing firm does not positively influence participation of foreign banks in the loan syndicate. Additional estimations using alternative specifications provide similar results. As foreign banks do not react positively to ownership concentration, we conclude that information asymmetries are not exacerbated for foreign banks relative to local banks in China. Moreover, it appears that increased financial leverage discourages foreign bank participation, suggesting that domestic banks are less cautious in their risk management.
    Keywords: bank; foreign investors; information asymmetry; loan; syndication; China
    JEL: G21 P34
    Date: 2010–12–30
  12. By: Adams, Charles
    Abstract: This paper reviews recent state interventions in financial crises and draws lessons for crisis management. A number of areas are identified where crisis management could be strengthened, including with regard to the tools and instruments used to involve the private sector in crisis resolution (with a view to reducing the recent enhanced role of official bailouts and the associated moral hazard), to allow for the orderly resolution of systemically important financial firms (to make these firms “safe to fail”), and with regard to achieving better integration with ex ante macroprudential surveillance. The paper proposes the establishment of high level systemic risk councils (SRCs) in each country with responsibility for overseeing systemic risk in both tranquil times and crisis periods and coordinating the activities of key government ministries, agencies, and the central bank.
    Date: 2010–08
  13. By: Ojo, Marianne
    Abstract: This paper considers and assesses various explanations attributed as principal factors of the recent Financial Crisis. In particular, it focuses on two principal regulatory tools which constitute the basis of the framework promulgated by recent Basel Committee's initiatives, that is, Basel III. These two regulatory tools being capital and liquidity requirements. Various conclusions have been put forward to explain what triggered the recent Financial Crisis. This paper aims to explain why the Basel Committee's liquidity requirements and present proposals aimed at addressing liquidity risks, still represent a very modest milestone in efforts aimed at addressing challenges in prudential regulation and supervision. Even though problems attributed to capital adequacy requirements are considered by many authorities to have triggered the recent Crisis, the paper will highlight how runs on banks are triggered by liquidity crises and that liquidity risks cannot be isolated from systemic risks. In so doing, it will incorporate the roles assumed by information asymmetries and market based regulation – hence elaborate on how market based regulation could serve to address problems which trigger liquidity risks. Imperfect knowledge being a factor which is contributory to liquidity crises and bank runs, and market based regulation being essential in facilitating disclosure - since the Basel Committee's focus on banks and prudential supervision cannot on its own, address the challenges encountered in the present regulatory environment. Furthermore, it will address measures and proposals which could serve as bases for future regulatory reforms - as well as criticisms and challenges still encountered by recent Basel Committee initiatives.
    Keywords: capital; liquidity; Basel III; Basel Committee; lender of last resort; banks; insurance; securities; information asymmetry; market based regulation; bail outs; disclosure; moral hazard; Dodd Frank Act; Financial Crisis
    JEL: K2 E52 D8
    Date: 2010–12–22
  14. By: Rosalba Cori (Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri); Cristina Giorgiantonio (Bank of Italy); Ilaria Paradisi (Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri)
    Abstract: Based on the economic literature and international comparison, the paper examines the adequacy of the terms of Italian project financing contracts to build and operate public works, and identifies potential areas for improvement. We analyze the main contractual content of the public works construction and management concessions submitted to the Project Financing Technical Unit with a view to monitoring public-private contract partnerships. Overall, the analysis reveals the backwardness of the Italian system and the existence of not insignificant problem areas. The survey supports the need to foster adequate standardization of contracts in Italy aimed, in particular, at ensuring: i) the provision of more appropriate mechanisms for the employment of penalties for breach of contract by the concessionaire, especially in the management phase, and – conversely – of reward mechanisms; ii) the inclusion of clauses relative to the sharing of financing documents by the contracting authorities; iii) appropriate attention to the quantitative elements of the business plan; and iv) the strengthening of supervisory activity of the grantor during the various phases of the contract.
    Keywords: project financing, regulation, risk allocation
    JEL: K12 D86 H83
    Date: 2010–12
  15. By: Mikko Packalen (Department of Economics, University of Waterloo); Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford University School of Medicine)
    Abstract: It is well known that pooled insurance coverage can induce a form of ex-ante moral hazard: people make inefficiently low investments in self-protective activities. This paper identifies another ex-ante moral hazard that runs in the opposite direction: it causes people to choose inefficiently high levels of self-protection. This other ex-ante moral hazard arises through the impact that self-protective activities have on the reward for innovation. Lower levels of self-protection and the associated chronic conditions and behavioral patterns such as obesity, smoking, and malnutrition increase the incidence of many diseases for an individual. This increases the individual's consumption of treatments to those diseases, which increases the reward for innovation that an innovator receives. By the induced innovation hypothesis, which has broad empirical support, the increase in the reward for innovation in turn increases the rate of innovation, which benefits all consumers. As individuals do not take these positive externalities on the innovator and other consumers into account when deciding the level of self-protective activities, they each invest an inefficiently high level in self-protective activities. In the quantitative part of our analysis we show that for obesity the magnitude of this positive innovation externality roughly coincides with the magnitude of the negative Medicare-induced health insurance externality of obesity. The other ex-ante moral hazard that we identify can thus be as important as the ex-ante moral hazard that has been a central concept in health economics for decades. The quantitative finding also implies that the current Medicare-induced subsidy for obesity is approximately optimal. Thus the presence of this obesity subsidy is not a sufficient rationale for "soda taxes", "fat taxes" or other penalties on obesity.
    JEL: I10 I18 D62 H23
    Date: 2010–12

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