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Political instability: Effects on financial development, roots in the severity of economic inequality

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  • Roe, Mark J.
  • Siegel, Jordan I.

Abstract

We here bring forward strong evidence that political instability impedes financial development, with its variation a primary determinant of differences in financial development around the world. As such, it needs to be added to the short list of major determinants of financial development. First, structural conditions first postulated by Engerman and Sokoloff (2002) as generating long-term inequality are shown here to have strong empirical support as exogenous determinants of political instability. Second, that exogenously-determined political instability in turn holds back financial development, even when we control for factors prominent in the last decade's cross-country studies of financial development. The findings indicate that inequality-perpetuating conditions that result in political instability and weak democracy are fundamental roadblocks for international organizations like the World Bank that seek to promote financial development. The evidence here includes country fixed effect regressions and an instrumental model inspired by Engerman and Sokoloff's (2002) work, which to our knowledge has not yet been used in finance and which is consistent with current tests as valid instruments. Four conventional measures of national political instability – Alesina and Perotti's (1996) well-known index of instability, a subsequent index derived from Banks' (2005) work, and two indices of managerial perceptions of nation-by-nation political instability – persistently predict a wide range of national financial development outcomes. Political instability's significance is time consistent in cross-sectional regressions back to the 1960s, the period when the key data becomes available, robust in both country fixed effects and instrumental variable regressions, and consistent across multiple measures of instability and of financial development. Overall, the results indicate the existence of an important channel running from structural inequality to political instability, principally in nondemocratic settings, and then to financial backwardness. The robust significance of that channel extends existing work demonstrating the importance of political economy explanations for financial development and financial backwardness. It should help to better understand which policies will work for financial development, because political instability has causes, cures, and effects quite distinct from those of many of the key institutions most studied in the past decade as explaining financial backwardness.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Comparative Economics.

Volume (Year): 39 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 279-309

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:39:y:2011:i:3:p:279-309

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622864

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Keywords: Economic development Political instability Financial development;

References

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  1. Lee, Chien-Chiang & Chiu, Yi-Bin & Chang, Chi-Hung, 2013. "Insurance demand and country risks: A nonlinear panel data analysis," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 68-85.
  2. Allen, Franklin & Gu, Xian & Kowalewski, Oskar, 2012. "Financial crisis, structure and reform," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 2960-2973.
  3. Ang, James B., 2013. "Are modern financial systems shaped by state antiquity?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(11), pages 4038-4058.
  4. Kurronen, Sanna, 2012. "Financial sector in resource-dependent economies," BOFIT Discussion Papers 6/2012, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
  5. Ayadi, Rym & Arbak, Emrah & Ben-Naceur, Sami & De Groen, Willem Pieter, 2013. "Benchmarking the Financial Sector in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries and Projecting 2030 Financial Sector Scenarios," CEPS Papers 7868, Centre for European Policy Studies.
  6. Jean-Claude Cosset & Charles Martineau & Anis Samet, 2012. "Do Political Institutions Affect the Choice of the U.S. Cross-Listing Venue?," Cahiers de recherche 1210, CIRPEE.
  7. Siong Law & W. Azman-Saini, 2012. "Institutional quality, governance, and financial development," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 217-236, September.
  8. Law, Siong Hook & Singh, Nirvikar, 2014. "Does too much finance harm economic growth?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 36-44.

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