Risk Management Failures

Matthieu Bouvard, and Samuel Lee


We study a model in which firms compete preemptively for trading opportunities and risk management introduces latency in trading. As the time pressure faced by firms is endogenous to risk management choices, strategic complementarities can trigger a “race to the bottom” where prioritizing trade execution over risk management is individually optimal, but collectively inefficient. This generates an inverse relationship between trading volume/immediacy and efficiency of risk allocation. Different from theories where financing frictions or risk shifting cause a lack of risk management, ours predicts the pathology of risk management failures to be the trifecta of (1) “boom” markets, (2) time-based competition, and (3) firms in which risk assessment is time-consuming. We discuss merits and drawbacks of taxation, fines, and market design as possible countermeasures.


Banks; Risk Management; Time Pressure; Coordination Failure; Global Games;

JEL codes

  • G20: General
  • G21: Banks • Depository Institutions • Micro Finance Institutions • Mortgages
  • G28: Government Policy and Regulation


Matthieu Bouvard, and Samuel Lee, Risk Management Failures, The Review of Financial Studies, vol. 33, n. 6, June 2020, pp. 2468–2505.

Published in

The Review of Financial Studies, vol. 33, n. 6, June 2020, pp. 2468–2505