Bankers' Pay and the Evolving Structure of US Banking

Publication Date
Systemic Risk Centre Discussion Papers DP 120
Publication Date
Financial Markets Group Discussion Papers DP 855
Publication Authors

We study the evolution of pay in US bank holding companies since 1986. We first set out the main empirical characteristics in both cross-section and time series focussing on banking structure (size and concentration) and pay characteristics given by labor's share of bank value-added, the level of an average bankers' real compensation and the sensitivity of that compensation to firm performance. Then we introduce a structural model in which bankers of heterogenous talent are matched with banks where shareholders design compensation contracts so as to maximise shareholder payoff in the face of managerial moral hazard. We calibrate this model to see if it provides an internally consistent account of the observed empirical patterns. By incorporating structural changes coinciding with three major changes in banking regulation we are able to reproduce changes in pay level and pay sensitivity observed and to establish a secular decline in labor's share consistent with a superstar fim effect in US banking. Overall we find that the observed pay fits closely to fair pay as predicted by our equilibrium model.