John Donaldson

Some Unpleasant General Equilibrium Implications of Executive Incentive Compensation Contracts

Coauthor(s): Marc Giannoni, Natalia Gershun.

Abstract:
We consider a simple variant of the standard real business cycle model in which shareholders hire a self-interested executive to manage the firm on their behalf. Delegation gives rise to a generic conflict of interest mediated by a convex (option-like) compensation contract which is able to align the interests of managers and their shareholders. With such a compensation contract, a given increase in the firm's output generated by an additional unit of physical investment results in a more than proportional increase in the manager's income. We find that incentive contracts of this form can easily result in an indeterminate general equilibrium, with business cycles driven by self-fulfilling fluctuations in the manager's expectations. These expectations are unrelated to fundamentals. Arbitrarily large fluctuations in macroeconomic variables may possibly result.

Source: Working Paper No, 15165
Exact Citation:
Donaldson, John, Marc Giannoni, and Natalia Gershun. "Some Unpleasant General Equilibrium Implications of Executive Incentive Compensation Contracts." Working Paper No, 15165, NBER, 2010.
Date: 2010