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The Efficiency of the Bankruptcy Process. An International Comparison

  • Buttwill, Klas

    ()

    (Department of Economics)

  • Wihlborg, Clas

    ()

    (Copenhagen Business School)

Failure of projects and firms are an inherent element of growth. Economic growth requires that old activities are phased out to make room for new ones, and that economic resources are reallocated from activities that are no longer profitable. In an economy where most firms are financed by debt to a substantial extent, insolvencies inevitably play an important role in restructuring. Insolvency leads to formal bankruptcy when legal procedures are employed to liquidate the insolvent firm’s assets in order to pay stakeholders fully or partially according to a priority established in law or contracts. In some countries legal procedures exist for restructuring as well as for liquidation. In other countries the restructuring of an insolvent firm is handled informally through negotiation. The economic roles of insolvency procedures are discussed (in Section 2) with an emphasis on dynamic aspects. In discussing the efficiency of insolvency procedures (in Section 3) we distinguish between ex ante and ex post efficiency. Since efficiency ultimately must be evaluated in terms of its dynamic effects, simple efficiency criteria are not easily identified. Formal insolvency procedures in different countries are classified (in Section 4) as more or less creditor or debtor oriented. Legal approaches can also be classified as more or less contractual or statutory. The important interdependence between formal and informal procedures is discussed in Section 5.Thereafter we turn in Section 6 to the empirical evidence on bankruptcy and restructuring in a number of countries with substantial differences in legal approaches to insolvency. We ask in Section 7 what explains the relatively high bankruptcy frequency in Sweden in an international comparison. Is the high frequency an indication of efficiency of procedures or does it indicate that viable firms are forced into bankruptcy unnecessarily?

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Paper provided by The Ratio Institute in its series Ratio Working Papers with number 65.

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Length: 60 pages
Date of creation: 18 Jan 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0065
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  1. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. "Legal Determinants of External Finance," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1788, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Per Stromberg, . "Conflicts of Interest and Market Illiquidity in Bankruptcy Auctions: Theory and Tests," CRSP working papers 459, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  3. Philippe Aghion & Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1992. "The Economics of Bankruptcy Reform," CEP Discussion Papers dp0093, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silane & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1996. "Law and Finance," NBER Working Papers 5661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 2001. "Ex Ante Costs of Violating Absolute Priority in Bankruptcy," NBER Working Papers 8388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 1998. "Chapter 11," NBER Working Papers 6473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Francesca Cornelli & Leonardo Felli, 1996. "Ex-ante Efficiency of Bankruptcy Procedures," Finance 9610001, EconWPA.
  8. Qaizar Hussain & Clas Wihlborg, 1999. "Corporate Insolvency Procedures and Bank Behavior; A Study of Selected Asian Economies," IMF Working Papers 99/135, International Monetary Fund.
  9. Frierman, Michael & Viswanath, P V, 1994. "Agency Problems of Debt, Convertible Securities, and Deviations from Absolute Priority in Bankruptcy," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(2), pages 455-76, October.
  10. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 473-94, July.
  11. Altman, Edward I, 1984. " A Further Empirical Investigation of the Bankruptcy Cost Question," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1067-89, September.
  12. Weiss, Lawrence A., 1990. "Bankruptcy resolution: Direct costs and violation of priority of claims," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 285-314, October.
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