Cash Holdings and Bank Compensation

7 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2016 Last revised: 16 Dec 2017

See all articles by Viral V. Acharya

Viral V. Acharya

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance

Hamid Mehran

Independent

Rangarajan K. Sundaram

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

The experience of the 2007-09 financial crisis has prompted much consideration of the link between the structure of compensation in financial firms and excessive risk taking by their employees. A key concern has been that compensation design rewards managers for pursuing risky strategies but fails to exact penalties for decision making that leads to bank failures, financial system disruption, government bailouts, and taxpayer losses. As a way to better align management's interests with those of other stakeholders such as creditors and taxpayers, the authors propose a cash holding requirement designed to induce financial firms to adopt a conservative approach to risk taking. Firms meet the requirement by deferring employee compensation in an escrowed cash reserve account. The cash accrues to the earners on a vesting schedule, but is transferred to the firm in times of stress so that it can pay down its debt or otherwise bolster its assets. The cash requirement increases with the leverage of the firm and with the firm's vulnerability to aggregate stress; the authors provide illustrative calculations sizing the proposed cash requirement for many U.S. financial firms over the 2000-13 period. The analysis also compares the role of deferred cash compensation in promoting financial stability with that of other instruments, such as inside debt, deferred equity, and contingent capital.

Keywords: financial stability, risk management, managerial incentives, deferred cash compensation

JEL Classification: G14, G21, G32, G34, J33

Suggested Citation

Acharya, Viral V. and Mehran, Hamid and Sundaram, Rangarajan K., Cash Holdings and Bank Compensation (2016). Economic Policy Review, Issue Aug, pp. 77-83, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2828075

Viral V. Acharya (Contact Author)

New York University - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

HOME PAGE: http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~sternfin/vacharya/public_html/~vacharya.htm

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States

Hamid Mehran

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Rangarajan K. Sundaram

New York University (NYU) - Department of Finance ( email )

Stern School of Business
44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012-1126
United States
212-998-0308 (Phone)
212-995-4233 (Fax)

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