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Privatizing the Privatized

  • Aaron Tornell

In the first part of this paper we argue that three reforms must be implemented if privatization is to increase efficiency. First, establishing unitary control rights within the firm. Second, making privatized firms face hard budget constraints. Third, establishing a non-corruptible judicial system and transparent bankruptcy procedures. The question arises as to what course of action should be undertaken when these reforms have not been undertaken and privatizers have only a small window of opportunity? Either they privatize hastily today, or not at all. Should they go ahead with privatization and hope that the newly privatized firms will create the demand for good laws? In the case of behemoths, the answer is not clear cut. Privatization without prior implementation of the three reforms mentioned above will simply replace government bureaucrats with private mafias (i.e., private groups with the power to extract fiscal transfers). These private mafias might behave more voraciously than the bureaucrats they are replacing, reducing aggregate efficiency and further hindering the growth of the competitive private sector. In the second part we address the more traditional issues of auction design and of restructuring and regulation of monopolies with network externalities.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7206.

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Date of creation: Jul 1999
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Publication status: published as Krueger, Anne O. (ed.) Economic policy reform: The second stage. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7206
Note: IFM
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  1. Barberis, Nicholas & Maxim Boycko & Andrei Shleifer & Natalia Tsukanova, 1996. "How Does Privatization Work? Evidence from the Russian Shops," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 764-90, August.
  2. Megginson, William L & Nash, Robert C & van Randenborgh, Matthias, 1994. " The Financial and Operating Performance of Newly Privatized Firms: An International Empirical Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 49(2), pages 403-52, June.
  3. Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Auction Theory," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 779, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. John McMillan, 1994. "Selling Spectrum Rights," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 145-162, Summer.
  5. Rafael La Porta & Florencio López-de-Silanes, 1997. "The Benefits of Privatization : Evidence from Mexico," World Bank Other Operational Studies 11583, The World Bank.
  6. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  7. David M. Newbery, 2002. "Privatization, Restructuring, and Regulation of Network Utilities," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262640481, June.
  8. Aaron Tornell, 1997. "Rational Atrophy: The U.S. Steel Industry," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1806, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
  10. Florencio Lopez-de-Silane, 1996. "Determinants of Privatization Prices," NBER Working Papers 5494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Vining, Aidan R & Boardman, Anthony E, 1992. " Ownership versus Competition: Efficiency in Public Enterprise," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 205-39, March.
  12. Philip R. Lane & Aaron Tornell, 1997. "Voracity and Growth," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1807, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Hanson, Gordon H., 1994. "Antitrust in post-privatization Latin America: An analysis of the Mexican airlines industry," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(Supplemen), pages 199-216.
  14. Noll, Roger G., 1989. "Economic perspectives on the politics of regulation," Handbook of Industrial Organization, in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1253-1287 Elsevier.
  15. Kornai, Janos, 1992. "The Socialist System: The Political Economy of Communism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198287766, March.
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