Legal

Bailouts, The Incentive To Manage Risk, And Financial Crises

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Executive Summary

A firm's termination leads to bankruptcy costs. This may create an incentive for outside stakeholders or the firm's debtholders to bail out the firm as bankruptcy looms. Because of this implicit guarantee, firm shareholders have an incentive to increase volatility in order to exploit the implicit protection. However, if they increase volatility too much they may induce the guarantee-extending parties to "Walk away". The author derives the optimal risk management rule in such a framework and show that it allows high volatility choices, while net worth is high. However, risk limits tighten abruptly when the firm's net worth declines below an endogenously determined threshold.

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