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Do Firms in Transition Economies have Soft Budget Constraints? A Reconsideration of the Concepts and Evidence

  • Mark E. Schaffer

This paper first examines various definitions of Kornai's soft budget constraint (SBC) and the difficulties involved in interpreting data on losses, subsidies and financing, and then considers selective evidence from transition economies. Stocks of overdue trade credit are no larger than in Western economies and firms in transition economies (TEs) typically impose hard budget constraints on each other. Banks have not been a systematic source of SBCs as often as is sometimes argued on the basis of data on classified loans; in 1992 Hungarian banks were imposing hard budget constraints on firms at the same time that they were classifying large volumes of their loans as bad. Tax arrears have emerged as a major source, and in the rapidly reforming TEs, the major source, of SBC's.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Reform and Transformation, Heriot Watt University in its series CERT Discussion Papers with number 9720.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Handle: RePEc:hwe:certdp:9720
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  1. János Kornai, 2014. "The soft budget constraint," Acta Oeconomica, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 64(supplemen), pages 25-79, November.
  2. M Belka & S Estrin & M Schaffer & I.J. Singh, 1995. "Enterprise Adjustment in Poland: Evidence from a Survey of 200 Private," CEP Discussion Papers dp0233, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Perotti, E. C., 1998. "Inertial credit and opportunistic arrears in transition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(9), pages 1703-1725, November.
  4. Dewatripont, M & Maskin, E, 1995. "Credit and Efficiency in Centralized and Decentralized Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 541-55, October.
  5. G. Alfandari & M.E. Schaffer, 1996. ""Arrears" in the Russian Enterprise Sector," CERT Discussion Papers 9608, Centre for Economic Reform and Transformation, Heriot Watt University.
  6. Chong-en Bai & Yijiang Wang, 1997. "Agency in Project Screening and Termination Decisions: Why Is Good Money Thrown After Bad?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 43, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  7. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1996. "Whither Socialism?," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262691825, June.
  8. Schaffer, Mark E, 1995. "Government Subsidies to Enterprises in Central and Eastern Europe: Budgetary Subsidies and Tax Arrears," CEPR Discussion Papers 1144, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Goldfeld, Stephen M. & Quandt, Richard E., 1988. "Budget constraints, bailouts, and the firm under central planning," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 502-520, December.
  10. Kornai, Janos & Weibull, Jorgen W., 1983. "Paternalism, buyers' and sellers' market," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 153-169, November.
  11. Hillman, Arye L & Katz, Eliakim & Rosenberg, Jacob, 1987. "Workers as Insurance: Anticipated Government Assistance and Factor Demand," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(4), pages 813-20, December.
  12. Goldfeld, Stephen M. & Quandt, Richard E., 1990. "Output targets, the soft budget constraint and the firm under central planning," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 205-222, October.
  13. Schaffer, Mark E., 1989. "The credible-commitment problem in the center-enterprise relationship," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 359-382, September.
  14. Boycko, Maxim & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1996. "A Theory of Privatisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(435), pages 309-19, March.
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