This paper studies the design of monitoring policies in dynamic settings with moral hazard. The firm benefits from having a reputation for quality, and the principal can learn the firm's quality by conducting costly inspections. Monitoring plays two roles: An incentive role, because the outcome of inspections affects the firm's reputation, and an informational role because the principal values the information about the firm's quality. We characterize the optimal monitoring policy inducing full effort. It can be implemented by dividing firms into two types of lists: recently inspected and not, with random inspections of firms in the latter.
This paper studies optimal contracts when managers manipulate their performance measure at the expense of firm value. Optimal contracts defer compensation. The manager's incentives vest over time at an increasing rate, and compensation becomes very sensitive to short-term performance. This generates an endogenous horizon problem whereby managers intensify performance manipulation in their final years in office. Contracts are designed to encourage effort while minimizing the adverse effects of manipulation. We characterize the optimal mix of short- and long-term compensa- tion along the manager's tenure, the optimal vesting period of incentive pay, and the dynamics of short-termism over the CEO's tenure.
I study managerial short-termism in a dynamic model of project development with hidden effort and imperfect observability of quality. The manager can complete the project faster by reducing quality. To preempt this behavior, the principal makes payments contingent on long-term outcomes. I analyze the dynamics of the optimal contract and its implications for the level of managerial turnover. I show that optimal contracts might be stationary and entail no termination. In general, I show that the principal reduces the manager's temptation to behave myopically by reducing the likelihood of termination and deferring compensation. The model predicts a negative relation between the rate of managerial turnover and the use of deferred compensation that is consistent with evidence of managerial compensation contracts.
We study firm's incentives to build and maintain reputation for quality, when quality is persistent and can be certified at a cost. We characterize all reputation-dependent MPEs. They vary in frequency of certification and payoffs. Low payoffs arise in equilibria because of over-certification traps. We contrast the MPEs with the highest payoff equilibria. Industry certification standards can help firms coordinate on such good equilibria. The optimal equilibria allow firms to maintain high quality forever, once it is reached for the first time. They are either lenient or harsh, endowing firms with multiple or one chance to improve and certify quality.
This paper studies the reliability of financial reporting when the credibility of the manager, represented by his misreporting propensity, is unknown. We show that credibility concerns affect the time-series of reported earnings, book values, and stock prices in ways that seem consistent with empirical evidence. When investors are uncertain about the credibility of the reporting process, earnings response coefficients, as well as market-to-book values (MTB), are random and time-varying; relatively low MTB reflect poor credibility of financial reporting; stock prices are s-shaped in earnings surprises and relatively insensitive to bad news. Finally, when the manager is more likely to have reporting discretion, discretionary accruals tend to be larger and more volatile. We estimate the model using U.S. earnings announcement data during 2002–2012 and find that the probability of misreporting is 7 percent. A counterfactual analysis reveals that ignoring the possibility of misreporting leads to overestimation of the mean (3.5 percent), volatility (13 percent), and persistence of earnings (17 percent).
We study disclosure dynamics when the firm value evolves stochastically over time. The presence of litigation risk, arising from the failure to disclose unfavorable information, crowds out positive disclosures. Litigation risk mitigates firms’ tendency to use inefficient disclosure policies. From a policy perspective, we show that a stricter legal environment may be an efficient way to stimulate information transmission in capital markets, particularly when the nature of information is proprietary. We model the endogeneity of litigation risk in a dynamic setting and shed light on the empirical controversy regarding whether disclosure preempts or triggers litigation.
We show that the repurchaser–issuer return spread is stronger among stocks with high return volatility. Rational and behavioral theories predict that this finding is the product of risk volatility and sentiment volatility, respectively. However, our results are inconsistent with these theories as they currently stand. Loadings on standard risk factors do not follow the dynamics that would explain the return predictability related to issuance decisions. If we sort on a stock's beta with respect to the aggregate sentiment index of Baker and Wurgler (2006, J. Finance, 61, 1645–1680), which proxies for sentiment volatility, the results are weaker—economically and statistically—than when sorting on return volatility.
This article studies optimal portfolio decisions with (long-term) liabilities for small open economy based investors, including the optimality of currency hedging (Walker (2008a). Chile is the home country of the representative investor, but results are likely to hold more generally. The problem is set up as in Sharpe and Tint (1990) and Hoevenaars, Molenaar, Schotman and Steenkamp (2007). Hedging the liabilities and the consumption currency may imply optimal close-to-home biases, defined as overweighting asset classes which are highly correlated with local ones. The implementation challenges include: developing a methodology to estimate expected returns in local (real) currency; estimating the covariance matrix allowing for serial and crossed-serial correlations; and checking the results' robustness using a resampling method. The findings are: (i) portfolios always have optimal close-to-home biases, beyond the investment in local fixed income to hedge liabilities; (ii) currency hedging reduces investment in close-to-home asset classes, (iii) but has ambiguous effects on welfare — detected with the resampling method; (iv) currency hedged long-term US bonds are useful for hedging local interest rate risk; and (v) liabilities give access to high risk-return portfolios, not affecting otherwise the overall shape of the efficient regions. This article can be useful to investors based on small open economies, including pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds and Central Banks.
This paper studies the dynamics of relationship-bank lending and market financing. Bank lending facilitates private learning over time but introduces an information monopoly. We show the entrepreneur starts with bank financing and subsequently refinances with the market. Asymmetric information is developed over time, while the entrepreneur also accumulates reputation. For sufficiently reputable entrepreneurs, banks will extend loans even after bad news, for the prospect of future market financing. Moreover, this incentive to pretend gets mitigated when the entrepreneur faces financial constraints. We further endogenize learning as the bank's costly decision and show banks stop learning when entrepreneurs become sufficiently reputable.
Management likely possess information about firm prospects that outside investors do not have. If managers strategically conceal such information, the accuracy of firm valuations may decline. To quantify this channel, we develop and solve a dynamic model of corporate disclosure. We estimate our structural model using a comprehensive sample of management earnings forecasts released by public companies in the US between 2004 and 2016. We estimate that about half of all firms strategically manage their disclosure. Strategic disclosers are endowed with information about 60% of the time and withhold information 26% of the time when informed, increasing uncertainty by roughly 4% of total earnings innovations relative to an environment with no strategic concealment. Information endowment is highly persistent, allowing investors to assess the existence of information in future periods after a first disclosure but also deterring managers from initiating a disclosure after a long non-disclosure spell. The model also explains why additional information from financial analysts encourages more forthcoming forecasts. Overall, our setting clarifies the benefits, but also inherent limits, of voluntary financial reporting.
We study strategic trading by a blockholder who can intervene over time to influence the firm's cash flows. We consider the impact of asymmetric information on the incentives of the blockholder to trade, and study when information asymmetry increases blockholder ownership and leads to greater firm value. Asymmetric information reduces the speed of blockholder trading if private information is sufficiently persistent, but can increase it otherwise. We study how the presence of liquidity shocks, leading to a noisy equilibrium, creates Rachet effects whereby the blockholder's (endogenous) trading plans induce him to distort the firm cash flows to manipulate the stock price.