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The Case for Intervening in Bankers' Pay

John E. Thanassoulis

University of Warwick - Warwick Business School; Oxford-Man Institute, University of Oxford; Nuffield College, University of Oxford

July 20, 2011

Journal of Finance, Forthcoming

This paper studies banker remuneration in a competitive market for banker talent. I model, and then calibrate, the default risk of the banks generated by investments and remuneration pressures. Competing banks prefer to pay their banking staff in bonuses and not in fixed wages as risk sharing on the remuneration bill is valuable. Competition for bankers generates a negative externality driving up market levels of banker remuneration and so rival banks' default risk. Optimal financial regulation involves an appropriately structured limit on the proportion of the balance sheet used for bonuses. However stringent bonus caps are value destroying, default risk enhancing and cannot be optimal for regulators who control only a small number of banks. The paper allows an assessment of the intellectual arguments behind widespread calls to regulate the pay of bankers. The paper uses US data to calibrate the analysis and demonstrate the significant contribution of remuneration to default risk.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 62

Keywords: Bonuses, Default Risk, Competition for Bankers

JEL Classification: G21, G34

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Date posted: July 16, 2010 ; Last revised: March 18, 2014

Suggested Citation

Thanassoulis, John E., The Case for Intervening in Bankers' Pay (July 20, 2011). Journal of Finance, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1639858

Contact Information

John E. Thanassoulis (Contact Author)
University of Warwick - Warwick Business School ( email )
Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/thanassoulis/
Oxford-Man Institute, University of Oxford ( email )
Eagle House
Walton Well Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6ED
United Kingdom
Nuffield College, University of Oxford ( email )
New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom
Feedback to SSRN

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References:  53
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