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Executive compensation and short-termist behavior in speculative markets

Bolton, Patrick; Scheinkman, José; Xiong, Wei

We present a multiperiod agency model of stock based executive compensation in a speculative stock market, where investors have heterogeneous beliefs and stock prices may deviate from underlying fundamentals and include a speculative option component. This component arises from the option to sell the stock in the future to potentially overoptimistic investors. We show that optimal compensation contracts may emphasize short-term stock performance, at the expense of long run fundamental value, as an incentive to induce managers to pursue actions which increase the speculative component in the stock price. Our model provides a different perspective on the recent corporate crisis than the "rent extraction view" of executive compensation.


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December 21, 2010


June 5, 2005. Review of Economic Studies, vol. 73, no. 3 (2006), pp. 577-611.