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Governance and Financial Fragility: Evidence from a Cross-Section of Countries

  • Michael Francis

The author explores the role of governance mechanisms as a means of reducing financial fragility. First, he develops a simple theoretical general-equilibrium model in which instability arises due to an agency problem resulting from a conflict of interest between the borrower and lender. In particular, when governance is weak and transaction costs are high, the share of capital assets that creditors can claim as collateral is highly sensitive to shocks. As a result, there is financial fragility, in that the willingness of agents to finance productive investments is sensitive to shocks. Second, using a data set that contains over 90 industrialized and developing economies, the author tests the hypothesis that governance is important in explaining financial fragility (measured as the likelihood of a banking crisis and investment volatility). His results show that institutions, rules, and laws that govern the financial environment are of first-order importance for the stability of financial systems. The author finds that, while better legal systems are particularly important, so are democratic institutions that limit the power of the executive.

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Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Staff Working Papers with number 03-34.

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Length: 58 pages
Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:03-34
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  1. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
  2. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 2002. "Tropics, Germs, and Crops: How Endowments Influence Economic Development," Working Papers 15, Center for Global Development.
  3. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
  4. Gorton, Gary, 1988. "Banking Panics and Business Cycles," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 40(4), pages 751-81, December.
  5. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  6. Eric Santor, 2003. "Banking Crises and Contagion: Empirical Evidence," Staff Working Papers 03-1, Bank of Canada.
  7. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 2002. "Law and finance : why does legal origin matter?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2904, The World Bank.
  8. Johnson, Simon & Boone, Peter & Breach, Alasdair & Friedman, Eric, 2000. "Corporate governance in the Asian financial crisis," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1-2), pages 141-186.
  9. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Government Ownership of Banks," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(1), pages 265-301, 02.
  10. Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Corporate Governance," CEPR Discussion Papers 1806, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. P. Honohan, 2000. "Banking System Failures in Developing and Transition Countries: Diagnosis and Prediction," Economic Notes, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA, vol. 29(1), pages 83-109, 02.
  12. Paul Krugman, 1999. "Balance Sheets, the Transfer Problem, and Financial Crises," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 459-472, November.
  13. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, 1998. "Which Capitalism? Lessons Form The East Asian Crisis," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 11(3), pages 40-48.
  14. Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Enrica Detragiache, 1998. "The Determinants of Banking Crises in Developing and Developed Countries," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(1), pages 81-109, March.
  15. Kaufmann, Daniel & Kraay, Aart & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Governance matters," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2196, The World Bank.
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