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Privatization in Mexico

  • Alberto Chong

    ()

  • Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes

Over the last 20 years, Mexico redefined the role of the state in its economy through an ambitious program to liberalize trade, promote efficiency and reduce the size and scope of the state-owned sector. In Mexico, privatization led to a significant improvement in firm performance, as profitability increased 24 percentage points and converged to levels similar to those of private firms. From this increase, at most 5 percent can be attributed to higher prices and 31 percent to transfers from workers, with the remaining 64 percent representing productivity gains. There is evidence that privatization provides other social benefits, as greater access to services, which usually follows privatization, leads to welfare gains for the poorest consumers that outweigh any increase in prices. Moreover, an often-overlooked aspect of privatization is its fiscal impact, whereby the proceeds from the sale are augmented by reduced subsidies and increased taxes and can help pay off debt or finance social spending. The Mexican privatization program can provide a valuable guide to privatization dos and don’ts: First, the privatization process must be carefully designed and run in a transparent way. Special requirements such as bans on foreign direct investment or cash-only payments lead to substantial price discounts for firms sold, while simplicity breeds competition and leads to higher prices. A transparent program can also help quell the tendency of politicians to favor their friends by tweaking the rules of the game. Second, restructuring firms prior to privatization is counterproductive in raising net sale prices and should be avoided. Governments spend substantial resources on politically motivated investment or efficiency programs that are not valued by bidders and which can rarely be justified on the social ground on which they are sold. Additionally, restructuring programs lengthen the privatization process considerably and lower prices for firms sold— in the case of Mexico, each month of delay reduced the sale price by 2. 2 percent. Finally, this paper argues that it is essential to carefully deregulate and re-regulate privatized firms to ensure that they behave appropriately as well as to provide a corporate governance framework to ensure firms are able to finance their operations without relying on the Government for help.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 4373.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:4373
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  1. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "Government Ownership of Banks," Working Paper Series rwp01-016, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Richard B. Freeman, 1984. "Unionism Comes to the Public Sector," NBER Working Papers 1452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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 1131-50, July.
  4. Narjess Boubakri & Jean-Claude Cosset, 1998. "The Financial and Operating Performance of Newly Privatized Firms: Evidence from Developing Countries," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 53(3), pages 1081-1110, 06.
  5. Chong, Alberto & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio, 2002. "Privatization and labor force restructuring around the world," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2884, The World Bank.
  6. Rafael La Porta & Florencio López-De-Silanes, 1999. "The Benefits Of Privatization: Evidence From Mexico," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1193-1242, November.
  7. Nicholas Barberis & Maxim Boycko & Andrei Shleifer & Natalia Tsukanova, 1995. "How Does Privatization Work? Evidence from the Russian Shops," NBER Working Papers 5136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bortolotti, Bernardo & Fantini, Marcella & Siniscalco, Domenico, 2001. "Privatisation: politics, institutions, and financial markets," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 109-137, June.
  9. Rafael La Porta & Florencio López-de-Silanes & Guillermo Zamarripa, 2003. "Related Lending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 231-268, February.
  10. John S. Earle & Scott Gelbach, 2002. "A Spoonful of Sugar: Privatization and Popular Support for Reform in the Czech Republic," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 02-79, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  11. Ramirez, Miguel D., 1998. "Privatization and Regulatory Reform in Mexico and Chile: A Critical Overview," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(3, Part 1), pages 421-439.
  12. Jeffry M. Netter & William L. Megginson, 2001. "From State to Market: A Survey of Empirical Studies on Privatization," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 321-389, June.
  13. Bruno Biais & Enrico Perotti, 2002. "Machiavellian Privatization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 240-258, March.
  14. K. Bayliss, 2002. "Privatization And Poverty: The Distributional Impact of Utility Privatization," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 73(4), pages 603-625, December.
  15. Bazdresch P., Carlos & Elizondo, Carlos, 1993. "Privatization: The Mexican case," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(Supplemen), pages 45-66.
  16. Perotti, Enrico C, 1995. "Credible Privatization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 847-59, September.
  17. Fama, Eugene F & Jensen, Michael C, 1983. "Separation of Ownership and Control," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 301-25, June.
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