The effects of barriers on equity investment in developing countries
Equity flows to developing countries climbed to an estimated $13 billion in 1992, four times the amount invested three years earlier. Investment increased partly because countries removed restrictions on foreign ownership, liberalized capital account transactions, and generally made foreign access to their markets easier. The authors investigate how stock performance in emerging markets is affected by foreign investors'formal access to stocks (as measured by the International Finance Corporation's index of"investability"). To measure foreigners'access to emerging-market stocks, they use the investability index created by the IFC's Emerging Market Data Base. The IFC indexes should be a good indicator of changes in legal barriers over time or of the relative importance of those barriers across securities in one market at a given point in time, or across markets. Using the Stehle (1977) model, the authors reject the hypothesis that emerging markets are integrated with world capital markets (for most emerging markets). They fail to reject the hypothesis that emerging markets are segmented (for all emerging markets). The authors interpret this as legal and other barriers limiting foreign investors'access to emerging markets. They next investigate the relationship between stock performance and the investability index to determine the importance of legal barriers relative to other barriers. They find a strong relationship between a stock's price-earnings ratio and its investability index, which suggests that formal barriers to foreigners'access has a negative effect on stock prices and thus raises the cost of capital for firms listed. Countries could lower the (risk-adjusted) cost of capital, they contend, by removing legal barriers to foreign investors'access to equity markets.
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