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The Chinese Corporate Savings Puzzle: A Firm-Level Cross-Country Perspective

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  • Tamim Bayoumi

    (International Monetary Fund)

  • Hui Tong

    (International Monetary Fund)

  • Shang-Jin Wei

    (Columbia University and Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research)

Abstract

China's high corporate savings rate is commonly claimed to be a key driver for the country's large current account surplus. The mainstream explanation for high corporate savings is a combination of windfall profits in state-owned firms, especially in resource sectors, and mis-governance of state-owned firms represented by their low dividend payout. The paper casts doubt on these views by comparing the savings of 1557 Chinese listed firms with those of 29330 listed firms from 51 other countries over 2002 to 2007. First, Chinese firms do not have a significantly higher savings rate than the global average because corporations in most countries have a high savings rate. The rising corporate savings rate is also consistent with a global trend. Second, there is no significant difference in the savings behavior and dividend patterns between Chinese majority state-owned and private listed firms, contrary to the received wisdom.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research in its series Working Papers with number 202012.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hkm:wpaper:202012

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References

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  1. Fama, Eugene F. & French, Kenneth R., 2001. "Disappearing dividends: changing firm characteristics or lower propensity to pay?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 3-43, April.
  2. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2009. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," NBER Working Papers 15093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jeffrey Wurgler, 1999. "Financial Markets And The Allocation Of Capital," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm123, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Mar 2001.
  4. Thomas W. Bates & Kathleen M. Kahle & Rene M. Stulz, 2006. "Why Do U.S. Firms Hold So Much More Cash Than They Used To?," NBER Working Papers 12534, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Art Durnev & Randall Morck & Bernard Yeung, 2004. "Value-Enhancing Capital Budgeting and Firm-specific Stock Return Variation," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 59(1), pages 65-105, 02.
  6. Hui Tong & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "The Composition Matters: Capital Inflows and Liquidity Crunch during a Global Economic Crisis," Working Papers 172010, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
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Cited by:
  1. Stephane Guibaud & Keyu Jin & Nicolas Coeurdacier, 2011. "Credit Constraints and Growth in a Global Economy," 2011 Meeting Papers 1040, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Joseph Fan & Randall Morck, 2012. "Capitalizing China," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number morc10-1, May.
  3. Deng, Lu & Li, Sifei & Liao, Mingqing & Wu, Weixing, 2013. "Dividends, investment and cash flow uncertainty: Evidence from China," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 112-124.
  4. Horioka, Charles Yuji & Terada-Hagiwara, Akiko, 2013. "Corporate Cash Holding in Asia," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 381, Asian Development Bank.
  5. Marcos Chamon & Kai Liu & Eswar S. Prasad, 2010. "Income Uncertainty and Household Savings in China," NBER Working Papers 16565, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dennis Tao Yang & Junsen Zhang & Shaojie Zhou, 2011. "Why Are Saving Rates so High in China?," NBER Working Papers 16771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bonatti, Luigi & Fracasso, Andrea, 2013. "Regime switches in the Sino-American co-dependency: Growth and structural change in China," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 1-32.
  8. Rod Tyers & Ying Zhang, 2011. "Japan's Economic Recovery: Insights from Multi-Region Dynamics," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 11-13, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  9. Loukas Karabarbounis & Brent Neiman, 2012. "Declining Labor Shares and the Global Rise of Corporate Saving," NBER Working Papers 18154, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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