Does stock market development always improve firm-level financing? Evidence from Tunisia
The question of whether or not increased stock market size allows for improved financing conditions for firms in emerging markets is an important one for policy-making. This paper seeks to investigate this issue by analyzing whether increases in market-level liquidity have indeed trickled down to individual firms over the last decade of stock market development in Tunisia, a fast-growing Mediterranean emerging market. We develop time varying liquidity scores for all firms listed in the Tunisian market over the 1997–2009 period and analyze the extent to which market development, firm-level characteristics and risk exposure affect the magnitude and the distribution of liquidity using a set of fixed effect panel regressions. Our results suggest that massive increases in value traded have created market congestion, thereby increasing the costs of trading, in a context of persistently low efficiency and increased international integration. The main implications of this process are (i) market-level development and international integration are not sufficient conditions to ease access to finance for local firms, (ii) further reforms in the Tunisian market should focus on diversifying corporate ownership and improving the disclosure of information, and (iii) international investors seeking diversification in Tunisia should be aware of a significant illiquidity risk.
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