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Why privatize? : the case of Argentina's public provincial banks


  • Clarke, George R.
  • Cull, Robert


Argentina has been a leader among developing countries in restructuring its banking sector. The authors analyze the performance of those banks before and after privatization and estimate fiscal savings associated with privatizingArgentina's banks rather than keeping them public and later recapitalizing them. The authors describe the process of privatization, including the creation of residual entities for the assets and liabilities of public provincial banks that private buyers found unattractive and the creation of a special fund (the Fondo Fiduciario) to convert the short-term liabilities of the residual entities into longer-term obligations. They argue that the Fondo, created through cooperation between the Argentine federal government and the World Bank, was key in making privatization of the banks politically feasible. Argentina privatized roughly half of its public provincial banks. The Argentine experience suggests that bank privatization may succeed only when accompanied by a sound, incentive-compatible system of prudential regulation. The regulatory environment affects a bank s solvency. Improved regulation and supervision alone does not deliver the same benefits as improved regulation and supervision with privatization. The provincial banks that remained in the public sector did not demonstrate the same performance gains as privatized provincial banks. The decision to maintain a public provincial bank is a costly one. Policymakers should expect privatization to pass through some or all of the following steps: 1) With respect to pre-privatization audits, expect losses hidden in these banks to be larger than those indicated in prior audits. 2) If residual entities are created, expect them to hold a large share of the old public provincial bank, if the quality of its loan portfolio was low. 3) Do not expect the price paid for the privatized entity (the so-called good bank) to be great, at least compared with assets and liabilities in the residual entity. 4) If the residual entity is large, the province will be confronted with substantial short-term liabilities. But with assistance and an aggressive asset recovery strategy, governments should be able to navigate their way through short-term difficulty. 5) The costs of privatization are less than the costs of future recapitalization, even if the near-term management of the residual entity does not go well.

Suggested Citation

  • Clarke, George R. & Cull, Robert, 1998. "Why privatize? : the case of Argentina's public provincial banks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1972, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1972

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Yeyati, Eduardo Levy & Micco, Alejandro, 2007. "Concentration and foreign penetration in Latin American banking sectors: Impact on competition and risk," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1633-1647, June.
    2. Bonin, John P. & Hasan, Iftekhar & Wachtel, Paul, 2005. "Privatization matters: Bank efficiency in transition countries," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(8-9), pages 2155-2178, August.
    3. Beck, Thorsten & Crivelli, Juan Miguel & Summerhill, William, 2005. "State bank transformation in Brazil - choices and consequences," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(8-9), pages 2223-2257, August.
    4. Fisman, Raymond & Love, Inessa, 2002. "Patterns of industrial development revisted : the role of finance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2877, The World Bank.
    5. Clarke, George R.G. & Cull, Robert, 2005. "Bank privatization in Argentina: A model of political constraints and differential outcomes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 133-155, October.
    6. Clarke, George R.G. & Cull, Robert & Shirley, Mary M., 2005. "Bank privatization in developing countries: A summary of lessons and findings," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(8-9), pages 1905-1930, August.
    7. Clarke, George R. G. & Cull, Robert, 1999. "Provincial bank privatization in Argentina : the why, how, and"so what"?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2159, The World Bank.
    8. Ramon Moreno & Agustin Villar, 2005. "The increased role of foreign bank entry in emerging markets," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Globalisation and monetary policy in emerging markets, volume 23, pages 9-16 Bank for International Settlements.
    9. Abid A. Burki & Shabbir Ahmad, 2007. "Corporate Governance Changes in Pakistan’s Banking Sector : Is There a Performance Effect?," Governance Working Papers 22251, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    10. Raymond Fisman & Inessa Love, 2007. "Financial Dependence and Growth Revisited," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 5(2-3), pages 470-479, 04-05.
    11. Kainth, Dr Gursharan Singh, 2010. "Analysis of Non-Fund Based Financial Services: Some Insights From Inida," MPRA Paper 29669, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Héctor G. González Padilla, 2009. "La privatización de bancos públicos provinciales en Argentina en 1993-2001," CEMA Working Papers: Serie Documentos de Trabajo. 401, Universidad del CEMA.
    13. Naguib, Rania Ihab, 2009. "Institutional and Regulatory Frameworks of Privatisation and FDI:A Comparative Study between Egypt and Argentina," Department of Economics Working Papers 15959, University of Bath, Department of Economics.
    14. Omran, Mohammed, 2007. "Privatization, State Ownership, and Bank Performance in Egypt," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 714-733, April.
    15. Raymond Fisman & Inessa Love, 2003. "Financial Development and the Composition of Industrial Growth," NBER Working Papers 9583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Eduardo Levy Yeyati & Alejandro Micco, 2003. "Concentración y penetración foránea en los sectores bancarios latinoamericanos: repercusiones sobre la competencia y el riesgo," Research Department Publications 4354, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    17. Caprio, Gerard & Honohan, Patrick, 2001. "Finance for Growth: Policy Choices in a Volatile World," MPRA Paper 9929, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Cull, Robert J., 1997. "Financial sector adjustment lending : a mid-course analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1804, The World Bank.
    19. Clarke, George R. G. & Cull, Robert & Martinez Peria, Maria Soledad, 2001. "Does foreign bank penetration reduce access to credit in developing countries"evidence from asking borrowers," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2716, The World Bank.
    20. Clarke, George R.G. & Crivelli, Juan Miguel & Cull, Robert, 2005. "The direct and indirect impact of bank privatization and foreign entry on access to credit in Argentina's provinces," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 5-29, January.
    21. Jose L. Gallizo & Jordi Moreno & Ioana Iuliana Pop (Grigorescu), 2011. "Banking Efficiency And European Integration. Implications Of The Banking Reform In Romania," Annales Universitatis Apulensis Series Oeconomica, Faculty of Sciences, "1 Decembrie 1918" University, Alba Iulia, vol. 2(13), pages 1-25.
    22. Apak, Sudi & Atakisi, Ahmet & Ozkan, Levent & Ekizceleroglu, Caner, 2006. "The privatization of public banks: will it always turn out to be satisfactory?," MPRA Paper 16500, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Clarke, George R. G. & Cull, Robert & D'Amato, Laura & Molinari, Andrea, 1999. "The effect of foreign entry on Argentina's domestic banking sector," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2158, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Payment Systems&Infrastructure; Banks&Banking Reform; Municipal Financial Management; International Terrorism&Counterterrorism; Economic Theory&Research; Banks&Banking Reform; Municipal Financial Management; Financial Crisis Management&Restructuring; Economic Theory&Research; International Terrorism&Counterterrorism;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation


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