NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Asset Management Contracts and Equilibrium Prices

Andrea M. Buffa, Dimitri Vayanos, Paul Woolley

NBER Working Paper No. 20480
Issued in September 2014
NBER Program(s):   AP

We study the joint determination of fund managers' contracts and equilibrium asset prices. Because of agency frictions, investors make managers' fees more sensitive to performance and benchmark performance against a market index. This makes managers unwilling to deviate from the index and exacerbates price distortions. Because trading against overvaluation exposes managers to greater risk of deviating from the index than trading against undervaluation, agency frictions bias the aggregate market upwards. They can also generate a negative relationship between risk and return because they raise the volatility of overvalued assets. Socially optimal contracts provide steeper performance incentives and cause larger pricing distortions than privately optimal contracts.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20480

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