The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. With nearly 300 released each year, working papers cover a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Poonam Gupta, Thierry Tressel, and Enrica Detragiache
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
This paper considers how a comprehensive set of factors relates to financial sector performance in low-income countries (LICs). It finds that corruption and inflation are associated with a shallower and less efficient financial system, while legal origin and characteristics of the supervisory and regulatory framework have no significant relationship with performance. Moreover, better contract enforcement and information about borrowers are associated with more private sector credit. Some results are surprising. Countries with more foreign bank penetration seem to have shallower and not necessarily more efficient financial sectors, while a larger presence of state-owned banks is correlated with more bank deposits and lower overhead costs, even after controlling for market size and concentration. Although these relationships are robust, more research is needed to ascertain the direction of causality and identify channels of transmission before deriving policy implications.