Better Bankers, Better Banks: Promoting Good Business Through Contractual Commitment by Claire A. Hill

Better Bankers, Better Banks: Promoting Good Business Through Contractual Commitment

byClaire A. Hill, Richard W. Painter

Hardcover | October 19, 2015

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Taking financial risks is an essential part of what banks do, but there’s no clear sense of what constitutes responsible risk. Taking legal risks seems to have become part of what banks do as well. Since the financial crisis, Congress has passed copious amounts of legislation aimed at curbing banks’ risky behavior. Lawsuits against large banks have cost them billions. Yet bad behavior continues to plague the industry. Why isn’t there more change?
           
In Better Bankers, Better Banks, Claire A. Hill and Richard W. Painter look back at the history of banking and show how the current culture of bad behavior—dramatized by the corrupt, cocaine-snorting bankers of The Wolf of Wall Street—came to be. In the early 1980s, banks went from partnerships whose partners had personal liability to corporations whose managers had no such liability and could take risks with other people’s money. A major reason bankers remain resistant to change, Hill and Painter argue, is that while banks have been faced with large fines, penalties, and legal fees—which have exceeded one hundred billion dollars since the onset of the crisis—the banks (which really means the banks’shareholders) have paid them, not the bankers themselves. The problem also extends well beyond the pursuit of profit to the issue of how success is defined within the banking industry, where highly paid bankers clamor for status and clients may regard as inevitable bankers who prioritize their own self-interest. While many solutions have been proposed, Hill and Painter show that a successful transformation of banker behavior must begin with the bankers themselves. Bankers must be personally liable from their own assets for some portion of the bank’s losses from excessive risk-taking and illegal behavior. This would instill a culture that discourages such behavior and in turn influence the sorts of behavior society celebrates or condemns.

Despite many sensible proposals seeking to reign in excessive risk-taking, the continuing trajectory of scandals suggests that we’re far from ready to avert the next crisis. Better Bankers, Better Banks is a refreshing call for bankers to return to the idea that theirs is a noble profession.

About The Author

Claire A. Hill is professor and the James L. Krusemark Chair in Law at the University of Minnesota Law School, where she is also director of the Institute for Law and Rationality and associate director of the Institute for Law and Economics. Richard W. Painter is the S. Walter Richey Professor of Corporate Law at the University of Minn...

Details & Specs

Title:Better Bankers, Better Banks: Promoting Good Business Through Contractual CommitmentFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:October 19, 2015Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022629305X

ISBN - 13:9780226293059

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction

Part I: The Problem

1 Irresponsible Banking
2 How Banking Became What It Is Today
3 Explaining Banker Behavior

Part II: Solutions

4 Law and Its Limits
5 Covenant Banking
6 Responsible Banking

Conclusion

Acknowledgments

Notes
References
Index

Editorial Reviews

“Hill and Painter have a proposal for fixing America’s banking system: encourage banks to adopt ‘covenant banking,’ a term they coined for a set of practices that would put the personal wealth and compensation of bankers at stake if something goes wrong.”