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Lessons from the Russian Meltdown: The Economics of Soft Legal Constraints

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  • Perotti, Enrico

Abstract

On 17 August 1998, Russia abandoned its exchange rate regime, defaulted on its domestic public debt and declared a moratorium on all private foreign liabilities, which was equivalent to an outright default. The depth and speed of the Russian meltdown shocked the international markets, and precipitated a period of serious financial instability. Important lessons on issues of bank supervision and international stability can be learned by understanding the roots of such a crisis. The visible reason of the crisis was an unsustainable fiscal deficit coupled with massive capital flight, but what were their underlying causes? We argue that the structure of individual incentives in a context of capture of state decisions by special interests, compounded by a ruble overvaluation driven by exceptional international support, helps to explain the build-up of non-payment, theft and capital flight that led to the crisis. We offer an explicit model of rational collective non-compliance, cash stripping and rational collective non-payment which led to the fiscal and banking crisis and, ultimately, to a complete meltdown. In our view, the banking sector was already insolvent prior to the crisis, and contributed directly and indirectly to it. We conclude with a radical policy proposal for a stable banking system for Russia, appropriate for its current capacity for legal and supervisory enforcement. It is based on a segmented, narrow banking sector, concentration in commercial banking and a cautious extension of deposit insurance. Copyright 2002 by Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

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  • Perotti, Enrico, 2002. "Lessons from the Russian Meltdown: The Economics of Soft Legal Constraints," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(3), pages 359-399, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:intfin:v:5:y:2002:i:3:p:359-99
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marin, Dalia & Schnitzer, Monika, 2005. "Disorganization and financial collapse," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 387-408, February.
    2. Berglof, Erik & Roland, Gerard, 1998. "Soft Budget Constraints and Banking in Transition Economies," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 18-40, March.
    3. Katharina Pistor & Martin Raiser & Stanislaw Gelfer, 2000. "Law and Finance in Transition Economies," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 8(2), pages 325-368, July.
    4. Franco Modigliani & Enrico Perotti, 2000. "Security Markets versus Bank Finance: Legal Enforcement and Investors' Protection," International Review of Finance, International Review of Finance Ltd., vol. 1(2), pages 81-96.
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    Cited by:

    1. Claeys, Sophie & Lanine, Gleb & Schoors, Koen, 2005. "Bank supervision Russian style : rules versus enforcement and tacit objectives," BOFIT Discussion Papers 10/2005, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    2. Simplice A., Asongu, 2011. "Finance and inequality: exploring pro-poor investment channels in Africa," MPRA Paper 34994, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Berglof, Erik & Claessens, Stijn, 2004. "Enforcement and Corporate Governance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3409, The World Bank.
    4. Perotti, Enrico C & Volpin, Paolo, 2004. "Lobbying on Entry," CEPR Discussion Papers 4519, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Enrico Perotti & Paolo Volpin, 2007. "Investor Protection and Entry," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-006/2, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Abdur Chowdhury, 2003. "Banking Reform In Russia: A Window Of Opportunity?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-601, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    7. Simplice A. Asongu, 2013. "Investment And Inequality In Africa: Which Financial Channels Are Good For The Poor?," The African Finance Journal, Africagrowth Institute, vol. 15(2), pages 43-65.
    8. Huang, Haizhou & Marin, Dalia & Xu, Chenggang, 2004. "Financial Crisis, Economic Recovery, and Banking Development in Russia, and other FSU Countries," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 79, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    9. Marin, Dalia & Huang, Haizhou & Xu, Chenggang, 2002. "Financial Crisis, Economic Recovery and Banking Development in Former Soviet Union Economies," Discussion Papers in Economics 27, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    10. Huong Dang, 2014. "How dimensions of national culture and institutional characteristics influence sovereign rating migration dynamics," ZenTra Working Papers in Transnational Studies 42 / 2014, ZenTra - Center for Transnational Studies.
    11. Perotti, Enrico C. & Suarez, Javier, 2002. "Last bank standing: What do I gain if you fail?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(9), pages 1599-1622, October.
    12. Perotti,Enrico C., 2004. "State ownership - a residual role?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3407, The World Bank.
    13. Arnaud Bourgain & Patrice Pieretti & Skerdilajda Zanaj, 2009. "International Financial competition and bank risk-taking in emerging economies," CREA Discussion Paper Series 09-08, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
    14. Karas, Alexei & Pyle, William & Schoors, Koen, 2006. "Sophisticated discipline in a nascent deposit market : evidence from post-communist Russia," BOFIT Discussion Papers 13/2006, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    15. Asongu, Simplice & Tchamyou, Vanessa, 2015. "Inequality, Finance and Pro-Poor Investment in Africa," MPRA Paper 71171, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Dalia Marin & Haizhou Huang & Chenggang Xu, 2004. "Financial Crisis, Economic Recovery and Banking Development in Russia, Ukraine, and Other FSU Countries," IMF Working Papers 04/105, International Monetary Fund.
    17. Karas, Alexei & Schoors, Koen & Lanine, Gleb, 2008. "Liquidity matters : evidence from the Russian interbank market," BOFIT Discussion Papers 19/2008, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    18. Pieter H.M. RUYS & Jan BRUIL & Henry DIX, 2007. "Modes Of Governance In The Dutch Social Housing Sector," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 78(3), pages 381-413, September.
    19. Enrico Perotti & Marcel Vorage, 2010. "Bank Ownership and Financial Stability," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-022/2, Tinbergen Institute, revised 11 Sep 2010.
    20. S. CLAEYS & G. LANINE & K. SCHOORs, 2005. "Bank Supervision Russian Style: Rules vs Enforcement and Tacit Objectives," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 05/307, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    21. Alexei Karas & Koen Schoors & Laurent Weill, 2010. "Are private banks more efficient than public banks?," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 18(1), pages 209-244, January.
    22. Ruys, P.H.M., 2005. "The Governance of Services," Discussion Paper 2005-024, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    23. Alexei Karas & William Pyle & Koen Schoors, 2010. "How do Russian depositors discipline their banks? Evidence of a backward bending deposit supply function," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 36-61, January.
    24. Abdur Chowdhury, 2003. "Banking reform in russia: winds of change?," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2), pages 89-103.
    25. Claessens, Stijn & Perotti, Enrico, 2007. "Finance and inequality: Channels and evidence," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 748-773, December.

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