The Politician and his Banker
Should the European Union grant state aid through an institution like the European Investment bank? This paper evaluates the efficiency of different measures for grant-ing state aid. We use a theoretical model with firms that differ in their creditworthiness and compare different types of subsidies with indirect subsidization through public banks. We find that, in a large parameter range, the politician prefers public banks to direct subsidies because they avoid windfall gains to entrepreneurs and they econo-mize on screening costs. For similar reasons, they may increase social welfare rela-tive to subsidies. One important prerequisite for this result is that public banks must not be allowed to fully compete with private banks. However, from a welfare perspec-tive, a politician uses public banks inefficiently often.
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