David Arnold, 19 July 2019

In the early days of his administration, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced plans to privatise several of the country's largest state-owned enterprises and airports. Fearing such a move would lower both wages and employment, labour unions organised in opposition to Bolsonaro’s plans. This column looks anew at evidence testing whether privatisation offers more than merely an immediate infusion of revenue, and finds that while increases in efficiency might contribute to Brazil’s overall economic growth, privatisation could also expose the country’s most vulnerable workers to significant risk of decreased wages.

Leonardo Baccini, Giammario Impullitti, Edmund Malesky, 17 May 2019

The recent success of China and Vietnam over the past three decades has triggered a debate over ‘state capitalism’ as a viable growth and development model. This column studies the effect of the 2007 WTO accession on the productivity, profitability, and survival rates of state-owned and private Vietnamese firms. The findings reveal that state-owned enterprises have hampered the efficiency gains brought about by globalisation. An analysis suggests that productivity gains from trade five years after WTO entry might have been 66% higher in the absence of state-owned firms.

Ann Harrison, Marshall W. Meyer, Will Wang, Linda Zhao, Minyuan Zhao, 07 April 2019

The conventional wisdom that privatisation of state-owned enterprises reduces their dependence on the state and yields positive economic benefits has not always been borne out by empirical work. Using a comprehensive dataset from China, this column shows that privatised SOEs continue to benefit from government support in the form of low-interest loans and subsidies relative to private enterprises that have never been state-owned. Although there are clear improvements in performance post-privatisation, privatised SOEs continue to significantly under-perform compared to private firms.

Max Büge, Matias Egeland, Przemyslaw Kowalski, Monika Sztajerowska, 02 May 2013

State-owned enterprises have become global players and the subject of much policymaking concern. There is a widespread perception that they may be acting differently when competing with private firms in the global market place. This column introduces a new database on state-owned firms that shows that more than one in ten of the world’s largest firms are state-owned. These new data should help governments formulate informed and balanced policy responses.

Shang-Jin Wei, 16 June 2007

Data on 12,400 firms in 120 Chinese cities show that state-owned firms have lower marginal returns to capital than private or foreign firms. This inefficiency costs China 5% of its GDP and suggests there would be big gains to further financial and corporate-governance reforms.

Events

CEPR Policy Research