Drawing on its extensive experience in helping restructure and reform financial systems, the World Bank examines the state of African domestic financial systems in a global comparison. It identifies promising trends as well as pinpointing the major shortcomings that are observed across sub-Saharan Africa. Policy recommendations distinguish between those designed to make finance a more effective driver of economic growth and those designed to give low income, small-scale and other excluded groups better access to financial services.
Beck, Demirgüç-Kunt, and Maksimovic investigate how a country's financial institutions and the quality of its legal system explain the size attained by its largest industrial firms in a sample of 44 countries. Firm size is positively related to the size of the banking system and the efficiency of the legal system. Thus, the authors find no evidence that firms are larger in order to internalize the functions of the banking system or to compensate for the general inefficiency of the legal system. But they do find evidence that externally financed firms are smaller in countries that have strong creditor rights and efficient legal systems. This suggests that firms in countries with weak creditor protections are larger in order to internalize the protection of capital investment. This paper--a product of Finance, Development Research Group--is part of a larger effort in the group to understand the determinants of firm size.
Economies with better developed financial sectors have a comparative advantage in manufacturing industries. A two-sector model shows the sector with large scale economies profiting more than the other from a well-developed financial sector. In countries with higher levels of financial development, manufactured exports represent a higher share of GDP and of merchandise exports, and those countries have a higher trade balance in manufactured goods.
To improve on the low level and low efficiency of Brazil's financial intermediation (and hence economic growth), Brazil needs reforms leading to a more efficient judical sector, better enforcement of contracts, stronger rights for creditors, stronger accounting standards and practices, and a legal and regulatory framework that facilitates the exchange of information about borrowers.
We examine the impact of bank supervision on the financing obstacles faced by almost 5,000 corporations across 49 countries. We find that firms in countries with strong official supervisory agencies that directly monitor banks tend to face greater financing obstacles. Moreover, powerful official supervision tends to increase firm reliance on special connections and corruption in raising external finance, which is consistent with political/regulatory capture theories. Creating a supervisory agency that is independent of the government and banks mitigates the adverse consequences of powerful supervision. Finally, we find that bank supervisory agencies that force accurate information disclosure by banks and enhance private monitoring tend to ease the financing obstacles faced by firms.
Financial sector development fosters economic growth and reduces poverty by widening and broadening access to finance and allocating society's savings more efficiently. The author first discusses three pillars on which sound and efficient financial systems are built: macroeconomic stability and effective and reliable contractual and informational frameworks. He then describes three different approaches to government involvement in the financial sector: the laissez-faire view, the market-failure view and the market-enabling view. Finally, the author analyzes the sequencing of financial sector reforms and discusses the benefits and challenges that emerging markets face when opening their financial systems to international capital markets.
This new database of indicators of financial development and structure across countries and over time unites a range of indicators that measure the size, activity, and efficiency of financial intermediaries and markets.