Working Papers

February 2015, No. 15-02

Fixed Prices and Regulatory Discretion as Triggers for Contingent Capital Conversion: An Experimental Examination

Douglas Davis and Edward S. Prescott

An unresolved issue regarding the implementation of 'contingent capital' bonds regards identifying the best mechanism for triggering the conversion of debt into equity. This paper reports a laboratory experiment that builds on previous work to evaluate the relative desirability of two leading candidate mechanisms: a price informed regulator and a mechanistic fixed-price trigger. We find that the conversion rule in effect determines the desirability of these two mechanisms. When the conversion increases incumbent equity value, a fixed trigger is preferable, but when the conversion decreases value, the reverse holds. Two modifications for improving the regulator mechanism, creating regulator bias (e.g., giving a regulator asymmetric rewards over intervention) and probabilistically providing a regulator with non-market information, only enhance this result.

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