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Law and Finance c. 1900

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  • Aldo Musacchio

Abstract

How persistent are the effects of legal institutions adopted or inherited in the distant past? A substantial literature argues that legal origins have persistent effects that explain clear differences in investor protections and financial development around the world today (La Porta et al, 1998, 1999 and passim). This paper examines the persistence of the effects of legal origins by examining new estimates of different indicators of financial development in more than 20 countries in 1900 and 1913. The evidence presented does not yield robust results that can sustain the hypothesis of persistence effects of legal origin, but it is not powerful enough to reject it either. Then the paper examines if there were systematic differences in the extent of investor protections across countries, since that is the main channel through which legal origin affects financial development, and shows that all the evidence supports the idea of relative convergence in corporate governance practices across legal families circa 1900. The paper concludes that, if the evidence presented is representative, the variation observed in financial development around the world today is likely a product of events of the twentieth century rather than a consequence of long-term (and persistent) differences occasioned by legal traditions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16216.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16216

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  1. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
  2. Edward L. Glaeser & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Legal Origins," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1920, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Miwa, Yoshiro & Ramseyer, J Mark, 2000. "Corporate Governance in Transitional Economies: Lessons from the Prewar Japanese Cotton Textile Industry," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 171-203, January.
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  5. Julian Franks & Colin Mayer & Hannes Wagner, 2006. "The Origins of the German Corporation - Finance, Ownership and Control," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 10(4), pages 537-585, December.
  6. Michael D. Bordo, 1995. "The Gold Standard as a `Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval'," NBER Working Papers 5340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Michael D. Bordo & Michael J. Dueker & David C. Wheelock, 2007. "Monetary policy and stock market booms and busts in the 20th century," Working Papers 2007-020, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 1999. "Corporate Ownership Around the World," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 471-517, 04.
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  11. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
  12. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "Legal Determinants of External Finance," NBER Working Papers 5879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Bordo, Michael D. & Rousseau, Peter L., 2006. "Legal-political factors and the historical evolution of the finance-growth link," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(03), pages 421-444, December.
  14. Marco Pagano & Paolo Volpin, 1999. "The Political Economy of Corporate Governance," CSEF Working Papers 29, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 01 Jul 2005.
  15. Hilt, Eric, 2008. "When did Ownership Separate from Control? Corporate Governance in the Early Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(03), pages 645-685, September.
  16. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2003. "Law and finance: why does legal origin matter?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 653-675, December.
  17. Tarun Khann & Krishna Palepu, 2004. "The Evolution of Concentrated Ownership in India Broad patterns and a History of the Indian Software Industry," NBER Working Papers 10613, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Enrico Perotti & Armin Schwienbacher, 2007. "The Political Origin of Pension Funding," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-004/2, Tinbergen Institute, revised 30 Oct 2008.
  19. Musacchio, Aldo, 2008. "Can Civil Law Countries Get Good Institutions? Lessons from the History of Creditor Rights and Bond Markets in Brazil," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(01), pages 80-108, March.
  20. Enrico C. Perotti & Ernst-Ludwig von Thadden, 2006. "The Political Economy of Corporate Control and Labor Rents," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 145-174, February.
  21. Tarun Khanna & Yishay Yafeh, 2007. "Business Groups in Emerging Markets: Paragons or Parasites?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(2), pages 331-372, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Pavel Ševcík, 2012. "Financial Contracts and the Political Economy of Investor Protection," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 163-97, October.
  2. Acheson, Graeme & Campbell, Gareth & Turner, John D. & Vanteeva, Nadia, 2014. "Corporate Ownership and Control in Victorian Britain," QUCEH Working Paper Series 14-01, Queen's University Centre for Economic History, Queen's University Belfast.
  3. Álvaro Aguirre, 2011. "Contracting Institutions and Economic Growth," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 643, Central Bank of Chile.

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