Stock Market Liquidity and Optimal Management Compensation: Theory and Evidence
Posted: 10 Oct 1998
Recent research strongly suggests that CEO incentive schemes are not solely determined by the standard considerations of risk-sharing and effort. Here, we examine the effect of the microstructure of the market in which the firm's shares are traded. If informed traders are free to choose both the size of orders they place on the market and the amount of information they gather, an increase in market liquidity makes the stock price more informative and increases the optimal linkage between CEO compensation and shareholder wealth. If on the other hand informed traders are severely restricted in their ability to take positions by considerations such as wealth constraints, increased liquidity reduces the informativeness of share price and dilutes optimal CEO incentives. We find evidence to support the second view in a sample of 329 large US corporations. Our sample contains firms that are listed on either the NYSE or the NASDAQ. The relationship between CEO incentives and the spread is significant and positive only for the NYSE firms, and NYSE firms have significantly higher pay-performance sensitivities. These results suggest a regulatory explanation whereby the monopoly specialist on the NYSE widens the bid-ask spread on small trades and subsidizes more informative large trades because of an affirmative duty to dampen large price movements.
JEL Classification: G30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation