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The Chinese Corporate Savings Puzzle: A Firm-level Cross-country Perspective

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  • Tamim Bayoumi
  • Hui Tong
  • Shang-Jin Wei

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 (as a share of total assets) 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 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16432.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Publication status: published as The Chinese Corporate Savings Puzzle: A Firm-level Cross-Country Perspective , Tamim Bayoumi, Hui Tong, Shang-Jin Wei. in Capitalizing China , Fan and Morck. 2013
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16432

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  1. 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.
  2. Hui Tong & Shang-Jin Wei, 2011. "The Composition Matters: Capital Inflows and Liquidity Crunch During a Global Economic Crisis," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 24(6), pages 2023-2052.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  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. 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.
  2. Charles Yuji Horioka & Akiko Terada-Hagiwara, 2013. "Corporate Cash Holding in Asia," UP School of Economics Discussion Papers 201311, University of the Philippines School of Economics.
  3. Chamon, Marcos & Liu, Kai & Prasad, Eswar, 2013. "Income uncertainty and household savings in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 164-177.
  4. 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.
  5. Joseph Fan & Randall Morck, 2012. "Capitalizing China," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number morc10-1.
  6. 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.
  7. Stephane Guibaud & Keyu Jin & Nicolas Coeurdacier, 2011. "Credit Constraints and Growth in a Global Economy," 2011 Meeting Papers 1040, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Dennis Tao Yang & Junsen Zhang & Shaojie Zhou, 2012. "Why Are Saving Rates So High in China?," NBER Chapters, in: Capitalizing China, pages 249-278 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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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