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The Efficiency of the Bankruptcy Process. An International Comparison

Author

Listed:
  • Buttwill, Klas

    () (Department of Economics)

  • Wihlborg, Clas

    () (Copenhagen Business School)

Abstract

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?

Suggested Citation

  • Buttwill, Klas & Wihlborg, Clas, 2005. "The Efficiency of the Bankruptcy Process. An International Comparison," Ratio Working Papers 65, The Ratio Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:ratioi:0065
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 2002. "Ex Ante Costs of Violating Absolute Priority in Bankruptcy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(1), pages 445-460, February.
    2. Philippe Aghion & Oliver D. Hart & John Moore, 1994. "The Economics of Bankruptcy Reform," NBER Chapters,in: The Transition in Eastern Europe, Volume 2: Restructuring, pages 215-244 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 1992. "An Incomplete Contracts Approach to Financial Contracting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(3), pages 473-494.
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    5. Altman, Edward I, 1984. " A Further Empirical Investigation of the Bankruptcy Cost Question," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1067-1089, September.
    6. La Porta, Rafael & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1997. " Legal Determinants of External Finance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(3), pages 1131-1150, July.
    7. Per Strömberg, 2000. "Conflicts of Interest and Market Illiquidity in Bankruptcy Auctions: Theory and Tests," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(6), pages 2641-2692, December.
    8. 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.
    9. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 1998. "Chapter 11," NBER Working Papers 6473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. 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 455-476, October.
    11. Cornelli, Francesca & Felli, Leonardo, 1997. "Ex-ante efficiency of bankruptcy procedures," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 475-485, April.
    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.
    13. repec:cup:apsrev:v:87:y:1993:i:03:p:567-576_10 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bankruptcy; Insolvency; Restructuring; Contracting;

    JEL classification:

    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law

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