Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Shareholders can utilize internal and external governance mechanisms to minimize agency costs. Internal governance mechanisms purport to improve the alignment between shareholders' interests and those of management by empowering the board of directors, setting value-maximizing compensation packages, employing leverage, and using other internal policies. Extensive discussion on corporate governance and regulations has motivated financial experts to conduct research on governance mechanisms and their relations to firm value. This study is focused on one particular aspect of corporate governance, which is executive compensation. Specifically, this study investigates executive compensation restrictions during the regulatory period and their effect on the performance of firms that received Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. TARP is a U.S. government program intended to restore the U.S. economy by purchasing assets and equities from troubled institutions. This study is important since it showcases the efficacy of government regulations to revamp unsound executive compensation and governance practices. It also contributes to the governance and regulatory literature by showing whether the public and shareholders benefit from the compensation rules. Using a clean sample of 84 public TARP firms that received at least $50 million from the government, with the period of analysis from 2003 to 2010, I find that firm performance is positively and significantly related to total compensation as well as to both of its components, i.e., equity-based pay and cash-based compensation. However, the magnitude of the relationship between cash compensation and firm performance is much lower than that for equity-based compensation. Testing the pay-for-performance sensitivity in three sub-periods of analysis, the findings show that the relationship between executive compensation and firm performance was significantly positive in the pre-crisis period. However, during the financial crisis and the regulatory periods, this relation was not statistically different from that during the pre-crisis period. During the crisis period, TARP firms did not make necessary adjustments to executive compensation despite the fact that they had been faced with financial difficulties. I also find that the change in firm value is negatively and significantly related to the change in total compensation for TARP firms that have paid back their debts to the government by December 11, 2009, but this relation is less negative than that for TARP firms that have not repaid the bailout money.
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