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Privatization: A Summary Assessment

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  • John Nellis

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    Abstract

    In the last 25 years many thousands of formerly state-owned and operated firms have been privatized in developing and transition countries, generating over $400 billion (US) in sales proceeds. In addition, thousands of firms have been transferred by privatization processes in which no money was raised (though a surprising number of state-owned firms remain in these regions). The vast majority of economic studies praise privatization’s positive impact at the level of the firm, as well as its positive macroeconomic and welfare contributions. Moreover, contrary to popular conception, privatization has not contributed to maldistribution of income or increased poverty——at least in the best-studied Latin American cases. In sum, the technical picture is generally positive. Nonetheless, public opinion in the less developed world is generally suspicious of, and often hostile to, privatization. A good part of the problem is that privatization has proven harder to launch, and is more likely to produce errant results, in low-income, institutionally weak states, particularly in the most important infrastructure sectors. Privatization is hard to sell politically; it has become a lightning rod and handy scapegoat for all discontent related to liberalization and globalization. What is needed are reform mechanisms that give incentives and comfort to reputable private investors, that create and sustain the policy and regulatory institutions that make governments competent and honest partners with the private operators, while at the same time protecting consumers, particularly the most disadvantaged, from abuse.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Center for Global Development in its series Working Papers with number 87.

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    Length: 29 pages
    Date of creation: Mar 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:87

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    Web page: http://www.cgdev.org

    Related research

    Keywords: privatization; weak institutions; poverty; liberalization; globalization; incentives;

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    1. John Nellis, 2003. "Privatization in Latin America," Working Papers 31, Center for Global Development.
    2. Paredes M., Ricardo, 2001. "Redistributive Impact of Privatization and the Regulation of Utilities in Chile," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Chisari, Omar & Estache, Antonio & Romero, Carlos, 1999. "Winners and Losers from the Privatization and Regulation of Utilities: Lessons from a General Equilibrium Model of Argentina," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 357-78, May.
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    12. J. Stiglitz, 1999. "Whither Reform? Ten Years of the Transition," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 7.
    13. Djankov, Simeon & Murrell, Peter, 2002. "Enterprise Restructuring in Transition: A Quantitative Survey," CEPR Discussion Papers 3319, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Torero, Maximo & Pasco-Font, Alberto, 2001. "The Social Impact of Privatization and the Regulation of Utilities in Peru," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    15. Barja, Gover & McKenzie, David & Urquiola, Miguel, 2004. "Bolivian capitalization and privatization: Approximation to an evaluation," MPRA Paper 23878, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Oct 2005.
    16. Federico Sturzenegger & Ernesto Schargrodsky & Sebastian Galiani & Paul Gertler, 2003. "The Costs and Benefits of Privatization in Argentina: A Microeconomic Analysis," Research Department Publications 3148, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    17. Domah, P. & Pollitt, M.G., 2000. "The Restructuring and Privatisation of Electricity Distribution and Supply Businesses in England and Wales: A Social Cost Benefit Analysis," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0007, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
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