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Privatization in Mexico

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  • Alberto E. Chong
  • Florencio López-de-Silanes

Abstract

Over the last 20 years, Mexico redefined the role of the state in its economy through an ambitious program to liberalize trade, promote efficiency and reduce the size and scope of the state-owned sector. In Mexico, privatization led to a significant improvement in firm performance, as profitability increased 24 percentage points and converged to levels similar to those of private firms. From this increase, at most 5 percent can be attributed to higher prices and 31 percent to transfers from workers, with the remaining 64 percent representing productivity gains. There is evidence that privatization provides other social benefits, as greater access to services, which usually follows privatization, leads to welfare gains for the poorest consumers that outweigh any increase in prices. Moreover, an often-overlooked aspect of privatization is its fiscal impact, whereby the proceeds from the sale are augmented by reduced subsidies and increased taxes and can help pay off debt or finance social spending. The Mexican privatization program can provide a valuable guide to privatization dos and donts: First, the privatization process must be carefully designed and run in a transparent way. Special requirements such as bans on foreign direct investment or cash-only payments lead to substantial price discounts for firms sold, while simplicity breeds competition and leads to higher prices. A transparent program can also help quell the tendency of politicians to favor their friends by tweaking the rules of the game. Second, restructuring firms prior to privatization is counterproductive in raising net sale prices and should be avoided. Governments spend substantial resources on politically motivated investment or efficiency programs that are not valued by bidders and which can rarely be justified on the social ground on which they are sold. Additionally, restructuring programs lengthen the privatization process considerably and lower prices for firms sold in the case of Mexico, each month of delay reduced the sale price by 2.2 percent. Finally, this paper argues that it is essential to carefully deregulate and re-regulate privatized firms to ensure that they behave appropriately as well as to provide a corporate governance framework to ensure firms are able to finance their operations without relying on the Government for help.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank in its series IDB Publications with number 6682.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:idb:brikps:6682

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Related research

Keywords: Financial Sector; Integration & Trade; WP-513;

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References

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  1. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-deSilanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2000. "Government Ownership of Banks," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1890, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Perotti, Enrico C, 1995. "Credible Privatization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 847-59, September.
  3. John S. Earle & Scott Gehlbach, 2003. "A Spoonful of Sugar: Privatization and Popular Support for Reform in the Czech Republic," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 1-32, March.
  4. Freeman, Richard B, 1986. "Unionism Comes to the Public Sector," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 41-86, March.
  5. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, . "Legal Determinants of External Finance," Working Paper 19443, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  6. Barberis, Nicholas & Maxim Boycko & Andrei Shleifer & Natalia Tsukanova, 1996. "How Does Privatization Work? Evidence from the Russian Shops," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 764-90, August.
  7. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Guillermo Zamarripa, 2002. "Related Lending," NBER Working Papers 8848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bazdresch P., Carlos & Elizondo, Carlos, 1993. "Privatization: The Mexican case," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(Supplemen), pages 45-66.
  9. Rafael La Porta & Florencio López-De-Silanes, 1999. "The Benefits Of Privatization: Evidence From Mexico," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1193-1242, November.
  10. Bruno Biais & Enrico Perotti, 2002. "Machiavellian Privatization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 240-258, March.
  11. Chong, Alberto & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio, 2002. "Privatization and labor force restructuring around the world," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2884, The World Bank.
  12. Ramirez, Miguel D., 1998. "Privatization and Regulatory Reform in Mexico and Chile: A Critical Overview," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(3, Part 1), pages 421-439.
  13. Jeffry M. Netter & William L. Megginson, 2001. "From State to Market: A Survey of Empirical Studies on Privatization," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 321-389, June.
  14. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Separation of Ownership and Control," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 301-25, June.
  15. K. Bayliss, 2002. "Privatization And Poverty: The Distributional Impact of Utility Privatization," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(4), pages 603-625, December.
  16. Narjess Boubakri & Jean-Claude Cosset, 1998. "The Financial and Operating Performance of Newly Privatized Firms: Evidence from Developing Countries," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(3), pages 1081-1110, 06.
  17. Bortolotti, Bernardo & Fantini, Marcella & Siniscalco, Domenico, 2001. "Privatisation: politics, institutions, and financial markets," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 109-137, June.
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