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The Chinese Corporate Savings Puzzle; A Firm-level Cross-country Perspective

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  • Hui Tong
  • Shang-Jin Wei
  • Tamim Bayoumi

Abstract

China’s high corporate savings rate is commonly claimed to be a key driver for the country’s large current account surplus. The mainstream explanation for high corporate savings is a combination of windfall profits in state-owned firms, especially in resource sectors, and mis-governance of state-owned firms represented by their low dividend payout. The paper casts doubt on these views by comparing the savings of 1557 Chinese listed firms with those of 29330 listed firms from 51 other countries over 2002-07. First, Chinese firms do not have a significantly higher savings rate (as a share of total assets) than the global average because corporations in most countries have a high savings rate. The rising corporate savings rate is also consistent with a global trend. Second, there is no significant difference in the savings behavior and dividend patterns between Chinese majority state-owned and private listed firms, contrary to the received wisdom.

Suggested Citation

  • Hui Tong & Shang-Jin Wei & Tamim Bayoumi, 2010. "The Chinese Corporate Savings Puzzle; A Firm-level Cross-country Perspective," IMF Working Papers 10/275, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:10/275
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eugene F. Fama & Kenneth R. French, 2001. "Disappearing Dividends: Changing Firm Characteristics Or Lower Propensity To Pay?," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 14(1), pages 67-79.
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    Cited by:

    1. Du, Qingyuan & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2016. "A Darwinian perspective on “exchange rate undervaluation”," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 111-138.
    2. Bénassy-Quéré, Agnès & Carton, Benjamin & Gauvin, Ludovic, 2013. "China and global rebalancing: A two-country approach," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 118-139.
    3. Xie, Shiqing & Mo, Taiping, 2015. "Differences in corporate saving rates in China: Ownership, monopoly, and financial development," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 25-34.
    4. Chamon, Marcos & Liu, Kai & Prasad, Eswar, 2013. "Income uncertainty and household savings in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 164-177.
    5. Jingting Fan & Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, 2016. "Emergence of Asia: Reforms, Corporate Savings, and Global Imbalances," NBER Working Papers 22334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Stephane Guibaud & Keyu Jin & Nicolas Coeurdacier, 2011. "Credit Constraints and Growth in a Global Economy," 2011 Meeting Papers 1040, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Tan, Zhibo & Yao, Yang & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2015. "Financial structure, corporate savings and current account imbalances," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 142-167.
    8. Dew, Ed & Martin, Jeremy & Giese, Julia & Zinna, Gabriele, 2011. "China's changing growth pattern," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 51(1), pages 49-56.
    9. Charles Yuji Horioka & Akiko Terada-Hagiwara, 2014. "Corporate Cash Holding in Asia," Asian Economic Journal, East Asian Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 323-345, December.
    10. Chen, Peter & Karabarbounis, Loukas & Neiman, Brent, 2017. "The global rise of corporate saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 1-19.
    11. Ayşe İmrohoroğlu & Kai Zhao, 2017. "The Chinese Saving Rate: Long-Term Care Risks, Family Insurance, and Demographics," Working papers 2017-17, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    12. Bonatti, Luigi & Fracasso, Andrea, 2013. "Regime switches in the Sino-American co-dependency: Growth and structural change in China," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 1-32.
    13. Joseph Fan & Randall Morck, 2012. "Capitalizing China," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number morc10-1, April.
    14. Rod Tyers & Ying Zhang, 2011. "Japan’s Economic Recovery: Insights from Multi-Region Dynamics," CAMA Working Papers 2011-18, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    15. Dennis Tao Yang & Junsen Zhang & Shaojie Zhou, 2012. "Why Are Saving Rates So High in China?," NBER Chapters,in: Capitalizing China, pages 249-278 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Zhang, Chengsi & Zhu, Yueteng & Lu, Zhe, 2015. "Trade openness, financial openness, and financial development in China," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 287-309.
    17. Loukas Karabarbounis & Brent Neiman, 2012. "Declining Labor Shares and the Global Rise of Corporate Saving," NBER Working Papers 18154, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Zhang, Dayong & Cao, Hong & Dickinson, David G. & Kutan, Ali M., 2016. "Free cash flows and overinvestment: Further evidence from Chinese energy firms," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 116-124.
    19. Bacchetta Philippe & Benhima Kenza, 2010. "The Demand for Liquid Assets, Corporate Saving, and Global Imbalances," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 10.12, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
    20. repec:eee:jimfin:v:81:y:2018:i:c:p:88-115 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Deng, Lu & Li, Sifei & Liao, Mingqing & Wu, Weixing, 2013. "Dividends, investment and cash flow uncertainty: Evidence from China," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 112-124.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Consumption; Corporate sector; Current account surpluses; Employment; Economic models; Production; Private savings; China’s savings; Corporate savings; State-owned enterprises; savings rate; net savings; savings rates; dividend payout;

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill

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