The return of public enterprise
Public enterprises never disappeared in spite of several privatization waves in the last three decades. This paper offers some trends and possible rationales for their resilience. In a sample of the Forbes 2000 top corporations, as reviewed by OECD economists (Kowalski et al. 2013), we show that the around ten per cent of state-owned enterprises perform better in financial terms than their private counterparts. The Great Recession has also shown that governments had to take over failing major private enterprises, including particularly banks. In several countries, particularly in Western Europe, there is municipalization of electricity and water distribution. In the EU/15, there is also evidence that in electricity and gas, government owned incumbents offer fairer prices to households than private competitors. Recent research on mergers and acquisitions confirms that in the last ten years there has been an increase of publicization relative to privatization, including through trans-border deals.
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