Japan’s high corporate savings might be holding back growth. We focus on the causes and consequences of the current corporate behavior and suggest options for reform. In particular, Japan’s weak corporate governance—as measured by available indexes—might be contributing to high cash holdings. Our empirical analysis on a panel of Japanese firms confirms that improving corporate governance would help unlock corporate savings. The main policy implication of our analysis is that comprehensive corporate governance reform should be a key component of Japan’s growth strategy.
This paper uses a stochastic continuous time model of the firm to study how different corporate governance structures affect the agency cost of debt. In the absence of asymmetric information, it shows that control of the firm by debtholders with a minority stake delays the exit decision and reduces the underinvestment problem. Such a governance structure may play an important role in diminishing conflicts between shareholders and debtholders.
Yishay Yafeh, Mr. Kenichi Ueda, and Mr. Stijn Claessens
Financial frictions have been identified as key factors affecting economic fluctuations and growth. But, can institutional reforms reduce financial frictions? Based on a canonical investment model, we consider two potential channels: (i) financial transaction costs at the firm level; and (ii) required return at the country level. We empirically investigate the effects of institutions on these financial frictions using a panel of 75,000 firm-years across 48 countries for the period 1990 - 2007. We find that improved corporate governance (e.g., less informational problems) and enhanced contractual enforcement reduce financial frictions, while stronger creditor rights (e.g., lower collateral constraints) are less important.
Mr. Charles Frederick Kramer, Miss Catriona Purfield, Ms. Hiroko Oura, and Andreas Jobst
Asian equity markets have grown significantly in size since the early 1990s, driven by strong international investor inflows, growing regional financial integration, capital account liberalization, and structural improvements to markets. The development of equity markets provides a more diversified set of channels for financial intermediation to support growth, thus bolstering medium-term financial stability. At the same time, as highlighted by the May-June 2006 market corrections, the increasing role of stock markets potentially changes the nature of macroeconomic and financial stability risks, as well as the policy requirements for dealing with these risks.
This paper examines the impact of regional cross-listing on stock prices. The sample consists of sub- Saharan African firms that have cross-listed during the period 1992-2008. Using event study methodology, the study finds positive abnormal returns around the date of the regional cross-listing of stocks. The positive announcement period effect, together with the normal post cross-listing performance, shows that regional cross-listing increases firm value. Overall, this provides evidence that firms benefit from listing outside their home market and need to be taken into consideration by SSA country authorities as they seek a regional approach to stock market development. Thus, policy makers of both the countries of primary listing (home country) and secondary listing (host country) need the right policy handles to conceptualize, facilitate and steer regional cross-listing efforts by firms. Through complementary policy-based efforts, policy makers can set the stage for regional cross-listings and harness the numerous related benefits.
With cross-section data from 53 emerging and mature markets, we provide evidence that equity premium puzzle is a global phenomenon. In addition to risk aversion, equity premium may reflect ambiguity aversion. We explore the sources of equity premium using some pertinent fundamental independent variables, as well as the World Bank institutional quality indexes and other proxies for the degree of ambiguity in the sample countries. Some World Bank and other indexes are statistically significant, which indicates that a large part of equity premium may reflect investor aversion to ambiguities resulting from institutional weaknesses.
Chile has a large but relatively illiquid stock market. Global factors such as global risk appetite and monetary policy in advanced economies are key cyclical determinants of liquidity in Chilean equities. Evidence from a cross-section of emerging markets suggests strong protection of minority shareholders can help improve stock market liquitidity. Currently, illiquid in Chilean may have to pay 3½ percent more as cost of equity. Corporate governance should be improved, namely through the adoption of a stewardship code.
This Selected Issues paper on Pakistan reports that fiscal adjustment, supported by official and private inflows and debt relief, has led to a substantial improvement in public and external debt indicators. International reserves have recovered close to US$10 billion. Financial sector reforms have resulted in a healthy banking system. With these achievements, vulnerabilities have been greatly reduced, and Pakistan’s prospects look favorable. A continuation of prudent fiscal policies, as anchored by the financial responsibility law, is needed to ensure that debt ratios continue on their downward trajectory.
Asia Leading the Way explores how the region is moving into a leadership role in the world economy. The issue looks at Asia's biggest economy, China, which has relied heavily on exports to grow, and its need to increase domestic demand and to promote global integration if it is to continue to thrive. China is not the only Asian economy that heavily depends on exports and all of them might take some cues from the region's second-biggest economy, India, which has a highly developed services sector. Min Zhu, the new Special Advisor to the IMF's Managing Director, talks about Asia in the global economy, the global financial crisis, correcting imbalances, and the IMF in Asia. And "People in Economics" profiles an Asian crusader for corporate governance, Korea's Jang Hasung. This issue of F&D also covers how best to reform central banking in the aftermath of the global economic crisis; the pernicious effects of derivatives trading on municipal government finances in Europe and the United States; and some ominous news for governments hoping to rely on better times to help them reduce their debt burdens. Mohamed El-Erian argues that sovereign wealth funds are well-placed to navigate the new global economy that will emerge following the world wide recession. "Back to Basics" explains supply and demand. "Data Spotlight" explores the continuing weakness in bank credit. And "Picture This" focuses on the high, and growing, cost of energy subsidies.
Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Ms. Jianping Zhou, Vanessa Le Leslé, and Michael Moore
The causes of the global financial crisis were multi-faceted but revealed still unresolved weaknesses in national and international financial oversight and resolution frameworks. In particular, many governments in the crisis-hit countries had to provide unprecedented levels of support to contain the crisis and protect financial stability. These interventions have not only contributed to a significant increase in sovereign exposures but, in many countries, they have also risked weakening market discipline and worsening moral hazard.