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Privatizing The Privatized

  • Aaron Tornell

In the first part of this paper we argue that three reforms must be implemented if privatization is to increase efficiency. First, establishing unitary control rights within the firm. Second, making privatized firms face hard budget constraints. Third, establishing a non-corruptible judicial system and transparent bankruptcy procedures. The question arises as to what course of action should be undertaken when these reforms have not been undertaken and privatizers have only a small window of opportunity? Either they privatize hastily today, or not at all. Should they go ahead with privatization and hope that the newly privatized firms will create the demand for good laws? In the case of behemoths, the answer is not clear cut. Privatization without prior implementation of the three reforms mentioned above will simply replace government bureaucrats with private mafias (i.e., private groups with the power to extract fiscal transfers). These private mafias might behave more voraciously than the bureaucrats they are replacing, reducing aggregate efficiency and further hindering the growth of the competitive private sector. In the second part we address the more traditional issues of auction design and of restructuring and regulation of monopolies with network externalities.

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Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 1869.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:1869
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  1. Noll, Roger G., 1989. "Economic perspectives on the politics of regulation," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1253-1287 Elsevier.
  2. Kornai, Janos, 1992. "The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287766, March.
  3. Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Auction Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 779, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Barberis, Nicholas & Maxim Boycko & Andrei Shleifer & Natalia Tsukanova, 1996. "How Does Privatization Work? Evidence from the Russian Shops," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 764-90, August.
  5. Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio, 1997. "Determinants of Privatization Prices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 965-1025, November.
  6. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane, 1997. "The Benefits of Privatization: Evidence from Mexico," NBER Working Papers 6215, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Philip R. Lane & Aaron Tornell, 1997. "Voracity and Growth," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1807, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. David M. Newbery, 2002. "Privatization, Restructuring, and Regulation of Network Utilities," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262640481, June.
  9. Hanson, Gordon H., 1994. "Antitrust in post-privatization Latin America: An analysis of the Mexican airlines industry," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(Supplemen), pages 199-216.
  10. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  11. Vining, Aidan R & Boardman, Anthony E, 1992. " Ownership versus Competition: Efficiency in Public Enterprise," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 205-39, March.
  12. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  13. Aaron Tornell, 1997. "Rational Atrophy: The US Steel Industry," NBER Working Papers 6084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Megginson, William L & Nash, Robert C & van Randenborgh, Matthias, 1994. " The Financial and Operating Performance of Newly Privatized Firms: An International Empirical Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(2), pages 403-52, June.
  15. John McMillan, 1994. "Selling Spectrum Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 145-162, Summer.
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