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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Why Regulators Should Focus on Bankers’ Incentives

Charles Goodhart:

Why regulators should focus on bankers’ incentives: Last autumn, Charles Goodhart gave a special lecture at the Bank. In this guest post he argues that regulators should focus more on the incentives of individual decision makers.
The incentive for those in any institution is to justify and extol the virtues of the decisions that they have taken. Criticisms of current regulatory measures are more likely to come from outsiders, perhaps especially from academics, (with tenure), who can play the fool to the regulatory king. I offer some thoughts here from that perspective. I contend that the regulatory failures that led to the crisis and the shortcomings of regulation since are largely derived from a failure to identify the persons responsible for bad decisions. Banks cannot take decisions, exhibit behavior, or have feelings – but individuals can. The solution lies in reforming the governance set-up and realigning incentives faced by banks’ management. ...
There are two questions that need reconsideration. The first relates to the scope of responsibility for outcomes in a hierarchical institution; the second relates to the downside that those responsible should face when failure or bad behavior occurs. ...

He concludes with:

If a bank CEO knew that his own family’s fortunes would remain at risk throughout his subsequent lifetime for any failure of an employee’s behavior during his period in office, it would do more to improve banking ‘culture’ than any set of sermons and required oaths of good behavior. The root of the problem is the bad behavior of bankers, not of banks, who are incapable of behavior, for good or ill. The regulatory framework should be refocused towards the latter, with a focus on reforming incentives.

    Posted by on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 05:34 AM in Economics, Financial System, Regulation | Permalink  Comments (25)


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