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The Truth About Privatization in Latin America

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  • Alberto Chong

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  • Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes

Abstract

Privatization is under attack. Criticisms run from corrupt deals to abuse of market power and social welfare losses. We evaluate the empirical record on privatization relying on recent comprehensive studies from Latin America. There are four main results. First, the increased profitability of privatized firms is not explained by sample selection biases. Second, in the quest to identify the sources of increased profitability after privatization, we find little evidence that validates concerns of generalized market power abuses, exploitation of workers and lack of fiscal benefits. Third, the manner in which privatization is carried out matters. Transparency and homogeneity in procedures, speed, and limited restructuring prior to privatization lead to better outcomes and less room for corruption and discretion. Finally, privatization’s success is enhanced by two complementary policies: re-regulation or deregulation of industries previously shielded from competitive forces; and an effective corporate governance framework that facilitates privatized firms’ access to capital at lower costs. Overall, the empirical record shows that privatization leads to increased profitability and productivity, firm restructuring, fiscal benefits, output growth and even quality improvements. Most cases of privatization failure can be linked to poor contract design, opaque processes with heavy state involvement, lack of re-regulation and a poor corporate governance framework.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 3180.

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Date of creation: Oct 2003
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:3180

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Checchi, Daniele & Florio, Massimo & Carrera, Jorge, 2005. "Privatization Discontent and Its Determinants: Evidence from Latin America," IZA Discussion Papers 1587, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. J. David Brown & John Earle & Almos Telegdy, 2005. "Does Privatization Hurt Workers? Lessons from Comprehensive Manufacturing Firm Panel Data in Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine," CERT Discussion Papers 0509, Centre for Economic Reform and Transformation, Heriot Watt University.
  3. J. David Brown & John S. Earle & Almos Telegdy, . "Employment and Wage Effects of Privatisation: Evidence from Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles jse2010, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  4. Andres, Luis & Foster, Vivien & Guasch, Jose Luis, 2006. "The impact of privatization on the performance of the infrastructure sector : the case of electricity distribution in Latin American countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3936, The World Bank.
  5. Luis A. Andrés & J. Luis Guasch & Thomas Haven & Vivien Foster, 2008. "The Impact of Private Sector Participation in Infrastructure : Lights, Shadows, and the Road Ahead," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6545, October.
  6. Christian Velasquez-Donaldson, 2007. "Analysis of the Hydrocarbon Sector in Bolivia: How are the Gas and Oil Revenues Distributed?," Development Research Working Paper Series 06/2007, Institute for Advanced Development Studies.
  7. World Bank, 2009. "Good Governance in Public-Private Partnerships : A Resource Guide for Practitioners," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12665, The World Bank.
  8. Gustavo Ferro & Omar Chisari, 2010. "Tópicos de Economía de la Regulación de los Servicios Públicos," Working Papers hal-00473038, HAL.
  9. Antonio Rodriguez & Carlyn Ramlogan, 2007. "Corruption, privatisation and the distribution of income in Latin America," Development Research Working Paper Series 09/2007, Institute for Advanced Development Studies.
  10. Sirtaine, Sophie & Pinglo, Maria Elena & Guasch, J. Luis & Foster, Vivien, 2005. "How profitable are private infrastructure concessions in Latin America?: Empirical evidence and regulatory implications," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 45(2-3), pages 380-402, May.

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