The Hidden Cost of Managerial Incentives: Evidence from the Bond and Stock Markets
38 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2004
Date Written: September 2004
We examine how incentives embedded in managerial compensation contracts are priced by the bond and stock markets. Specifically, the incentives we consider are the sensitivity of CEO wealth to stock price (delta) and the sensitivity of CEO wealth to stock-return volatility (vega). Controlling for other determinants, we find that higher levels of both vega and delta are associated with higher bond credit spreads and higher expected stock returns. In addition to having a direct effect on credit spreads and expected stock returns, higher incentives are also associated with lower average cash flows, higher volatility of cash flows, and higher volatility of stock returns (all of which increase credit spreads), and higher systematic risk (which increases expected stock return). Thus, higher incentives have a cascading effect on credit spreads and expected stock returns. Also, a portfolio of high-incentive firms significantly underperforms a portfolio of low-incentive firms on a risk-adjusted basis; thus, on average shareholders appear to be harmed ex post as a result of incentive provision.
Keywords: Managerial incentives, executive compensation, credit spreads, expected stock returns
JEL Classification: G12, G34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation