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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. Hui Tong & Shang-Jin Wei, 2009. "The Composition Matters: Capital Inflows and Liquidity Crunch during a Global Economic Crisis," NBER Working Papers 15207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 511 - 564.
  3. 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.
  4. Eugene F. Fama & Kenneth R. French, . "Disappearing Dividends: Changing Firm Characteristics or Lower Propensity to Pay?."," CRSP working papers 509, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  5. Wurgler, Jeffrey, 2000. "Financial markets and the allocation of capital," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 187-214.
  6. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. Joseph Fan & Randall Morck & Bernard Yeung, 2011. "Capitalizing China," NBER Working Papers 17687, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Charles Yuji Horioka & Akiko Terada-Hagiwara, 2013. "Corporate Cash Holding in Asia," UP School of Economics Discussion Papers, University of the Philippines School of Economics 201311, University of the Philippines School of Economics.
  3. Keyu Jin & Stéphane Guibaud & Nicolas Coeurdacier, 2011. "Credit constraints and growth in a global economy," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 35706, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Yang, Dennis T. & Zhang, Junsen & Zhou, Shaojie, 2011. "Why Are Saving Rates So High in China?," IZA Discussion Papers 5465, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Rod Tyers & Ying Zhang, 2011. "Japan’s Economic Recovery: Insights from Multi-Region Dynamics," CAMA Working Papers 2011-18, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  6. Chamon, Marcos & Liu, Kai & Prasad, Eswar, 2010. "Income Uncertainty and Household Savings in China," IZA Discussion Papers 5331, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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