August 1999 Argentina's recently privatized provincial banks generate much of their income through service contracts with the provinces, and the transition to commercial banking has been challenging. Available evidence suggests improvements in post-privatization performance, but it is uncertain whether these are sustainable. At the very least, however, a fiscal burden has been lifted from the provinces. Argentina's provinces offer a unique opportunity to study bank privatization because so many transactions took place there in so short a period in the 1990s (1994-98). As the decade started, every province owned at least one bank, performance in publicly owned provincial banks was substantially worse than in private banks, and the losses incurred imposed substantial fiscal costs on the provinces. Politicians whose provinces were in dire fiscal straits, their banks losing money at a fast rate, were most willing to seize opportunities to privatize, even though overstaffed provincial banks were harder to privatize. Deposit loss and liquidity problems associated with the Tequila crisis made privatization more likely. The right political situation is necessary but not sufficient to ensure good privati-zations. First, one must find a buyer, and Argentina's provincial banks were the least attractive in the banking sector. So the provinces settled for purchasers that were not first-tier banks. Many of them were small wholesale banks that had to make the difficult transition to retail banking. Three important concessions were made to purchasers: contracts to provide post-privati-zation services to the provinces, portfolio guarantees, and the assumption of only good assets. In return, provincial politicians were granted restrictions on branch closings and layoffs of bank employees. Both types of accommodation were costly to the purchasers and the provinces. These transactions probably could not have been completed without long-term loans from the Fondo Fiduciario. Were the Fondo Fiduciario loan funds put to good use? Did privatization leave provincial banking on a sounder footing? Initial indications are that the situation has improved in most provinces. And the provinces experiencing post-privatization difficulties tend not to have participated fully in the Fondo Fiduciario privatization program. But the privatized banks rely on their service contracts with provinces to generate a big share of their income and are having trouble making the transition to commercial banking. It is uncertain whether the newly created banks are sustainable. But at least a fiscal burden has been lifted from the provinces. This paper - a product of Regulation and Competition Policy and Finance, Development Research Group - is part of a larger effort in the group to investigate the determinants of structural change in developing countries' banking sectors. The authors may be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 1998 Whether the adoption of explicit deposit insurance strengthens financial markets or weakens them depends on the circumstances in which it is adopted. Adopting it to counteract instability appears to have little (or negative) effect. Adopting it when government credibility and institutional development are high appears to have a positive effect on financial depth. Should we expect deposit insurance to have a positive effect on development of the financial sector? All insurance pools individual risks: premiums are paid into a fund from which losses are met. In most circumstances, a residual claimant to the fund (typically a private insurance company) loses money when losses exceed premiums. Claimants that underprice risk tend to go bankrupt. With most deposit insurance, however, the residual claimant is a government agency with very different incentives. If the premiums paid by member banks cannot cover current fund expenditures, the taxpayer makes up the shortfall. Facing little threat of insolvency, there is less incentive for administrative agencies to price risk accurately. In the United States, researchers have found that the combination of increasing competition in banking services and underpriced deposit insurance led to riskier banking portfolios without commensurate increases in bank capital. Deposit insurance may facilitate risk-taking, with negative consequences for the health of the financial system. On the positive side, insurance may give depositors increased confidence in the formal financial sector-which may decrease the likelihood of bank runs and increase financial depth. Indeed, simple bivariate correlations between explicit insurance and financial depth are positive. But when one also controls for income and inflation, that relationship disappears-in fact, the partial correlation between changes in subsequent financial depth and the adoption of explicit insurance is negative (and quite pronounced). Counterintuitive though it may be, that stylized fact may be partially explained by the political and economic factors that motivated the decision to establish an explicit scheme. The circumstances surrounding decisions about deposit insurance are associated with different movements in subsequent financial depth. Adopting explicit deposit insurance to counteract instability in the financial sector does not appear to solve the problem. The typical reaction to that type of decision has been negative, at least with regard to financial depth in the three years after the program's inception. Adopting explicit deposit insurance when government credibility and institutional development were high appears to have had a positive effect on financial depth. This paper-a product of the Development Research Group- part of a larger effort in the group to study the design, implementation, and effects of deposit insurance programs.
Performance of Manufacturing Firms in Africa: An Empirical Analysis sheds light on the characteristics of formal and informal manufacturing firms in Africa by comparing these firms with firms in other regions. Drawing on two data sources, the authors find that there is a very low share of manufacturing in GDP in Africa and in African exports. Most African manufacturing firms are informal, perhaps because the enforcement of registration and licensing regulations is not strict. These firms are also smaller than firms in other regions and few export. Labor productivity is low in Africa relative to other regions, but this may be because of the more challenging environment with the lack of physical infrastructure, the heavy burden of business regulation, and other issues. However, after accounting for these differences, the authors find that firms in Sub-Saharan Africa appear more, not less, productive than firms elsewhere. This analysis suggests that improving the business environment might allow firms to enhance their performance. However, given the pervasive distortions in the business environment and the limited resources at the disposal of most African countries, Africa cannot and should not wait until the business environment becomes healthier before growing a more viable manufacturing sector. Performance of Manufacturing Firms in Africa: An Empirical Analysis shows that binding constraints vary by country, by sector, and by firm size. Therefore, countries should identify the constraints in the most promising sectors and adopt policies designed specifically to remove these constraints. The evidence in this book overwhelmingly dispels the false notion of Africa s inability to compete globally in manufacturing goods. This book will be of interest to economists, policy makers, and government officials working to improve manufacturing firm performance in Africa.
"Using a new database of World Bank loans to support financial sector development, the authors investigate whether countries that received such loans experienced more rapid growth on standard indicators of financial development than countries that did not. They account for self-selection with treatment effects regressions, and also use propensity score matching techniques. The authors' results indicate that borrowing countries had significantly more rapid growth in M2/GDP than non-borrowers, and swifter reductions in interest rate spreads and cash holdings (as a share of M2). Borrowers also had higher private credit growth rates than non-borrowers in treatment effects regressions, but not in standard panel regressions with fixed country effects. On the whole, however, the results indicate significant advantages for borrowers over non-borrowers in terms of financial development."--Cover verso.
This paper describes the recent trends in foreign bank ownership in developing countries, summarizes the existing evidence on the causes and implications of foreign bank presence, and reexamines the link between banking crises and foreign bank participation. Using data on the share of banking sector assets held by foreign banks in over 100 developing countries during 1995-2002, the results show that countries that experienced a banking crisis tended to have higher levels of foreign bank participation than those that did not. Furthermore, panel regressions indicate that foreign participation increased as a result of crises rather than prior to them. However, post-crisis increases in foreign participation did not coincide with increased credit to the private sector, perhaps because in many cases foreign banks acquired distressed banks.
If the Internet made it easier for firms to enter new markets by reducing communication and search costs, then it may also have made it easier to export goods and services. Clarke and Wallsten find that higher Internet penetration in developing countries is correlated with greater exports to industrial countries, but not with trade between developing countries or with exports from industrial countries. Interpreting the correlations is difficult because causation may run from Internet use to exports or from trade openness to Internet use. To test whether Internet use affects export behavior, the authors endogenize Internet use by using countries' regulation of data services and Internet provision as instrumental variables. The results are robust to endogenizing Internet penetration, suggesting that access to the Internet does affect the export performance of firms in developing countries. In other words, Internet access appears to stimulate exports from poor countries to rich countries. Moreover, the analysis suggests that regulatory policies affecting telecommunications and Internet development indirectly affect trade, further emphasizing the importance of deregulating potentially competitive services in the telecommunications industry. This paper--a product of Investment Climate, Development Research Group--is part of a larger effort in the group to understand regulatory infrastructure sector reforms.
Using a large panel dataset of Chinese industrial firms, the authors examine the determinants of access to loans from formal financial intermediaries and extension of trade credit. Poorly performing state-owned enterprises were more likely to redistribute credit to firms with less privileged access to loans through trade credit, a pattern consistent with some of the extension of trade credit being involuntary. By contrast, profitable private domestic firms were more likely to extend trade credit than unprofitable ones. Trade credit likely provided a substitute for loans for these private firms' customers that were shut out of formal credit markets. As biases in lending became less severe, the amount of trade credit extended by private firms declined.
Although theoretical models make distinct predictions about the relationship between financial sector development and income inequality, little empirical research has been conducted to compare their relative explanatory power. Clarke, Xu, and Zou examine the relation between financial intermediary development and income inequality in a panel data set of 91 countries for the period 1960-95. Their results provide evidence that inequality decreases as economies develop their financial intermediaries, consistent with the theoretical models in Galor and Zeira (1993) and Banerjee and Newman (1993). Moreover, consistent with the insight of Kuznets, the relation between the Gini coefficient and financial intermediary development appears to depend on the sectoral structure of the economy: a larger modern sector is associated with a smaller drop in the Gini coefficient for the same level of financial intermediary development. But there is no evidence of an inverted-U-shaped relation between financial sector development and income inequality, as suggested by Greenwood and Jovanovic (1990). The results are robust to controlling for biases introduced by simultaneity. This paper--a product of Investment Climate, Development Research Group--is part of a larger effort in the group to understand the link between economic development and financial sector performance.