Does"grease money"speed up the wheels of commerce?
If bureaucratic burden and delay are exogenous, a firm may find bribes a helpful way to cut through red tape. According to the"efficient grease"hypothesis, corruption can improve economic efficiency, and,fighting bribery can be counterproductive. This need not be the case. In a general equilibrium in which regulatory burden and delay can be endogenously chosen by rent-seeking bureaucrats, the effective (not just nominal) red tape and bribery may be positively correlated across firms. Using data from three worldwide firm-level surveys, the authors examine the relationship between bribe and payments, management time wasted with bureaucrats, and cost of capital. They find that firms that pay more in bribes are also likely to spend more, not less, management time with bureaucrats, negotiating regulations. They also face a higher, not lower, cost of capital.
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