Pay for Regulator Performance

78 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2011 Last revised: 12 Sep 2011

See all articles by Frederick Tung

Frederick Tung

Boston University School of Law

M. Todd Henderson

University of Chicago - Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 24, 2011


Few doubt that executive compensation arrangements encouraged the excessive risk taking by banks that led to the recent Financial Crisis. Accordingly, academics and lawmakers have called for the reform of banker pay practices. In this Article, we argue that regulator pay is to blame as well, and that fixing it may be easier and more effective than reforming banker pay. Regulatory failures during the Financial Crisis resulted at least in part from a lack of sufficient incentives for examiners to act aggressively to prevent excessive risk. Bank regulators are rarely paid for performance, and in atypical cases involving performance bonus programs, the bonuses have been allocated in highly inefficient ways. We propose that regulators, specifically bank examiners, be compensated with a debt-heavy mix of phantom bank equity and debt, as well as a separate bonus linked to the timing of the decision to shut down a bank. Our pay-for-performance approach for regulators would help reduce the incidence of future regulatory failures.

Keywords: bank, bank examiner, banking regulation, incentive pay, pay for performance, financial crisis

JEL Classification: G21, G28, G38, J33, K23, L51

Suggested Citation

Tung, Frederick and Henderson, M. Todd, Pay for Regulator Performance (August 24, 2011). U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 574, Boston Univ. School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 11-43, Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 11-43, Available at SSRN: or

Frederick Tung (Contact Author)

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

M. Todd Henderson

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-4168 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)

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