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Financial intermediary distress in the Republic of Korea - Small is beautiful?


  • Bongini, Paola
  • Ferri, Giovanni
  • Tae Soo Kang


Taking the Korean experience as a laboratory experiment in systemic financial crises, the authors analyze distress in individual institutions among two groups of financial intermediaries. They pool together a group of large financial intermediaries (commercial banks, merchant banking corporations) and another group of tiny mutual savings and finance companies. Both the too-big-to-fail doctrine and the credit channel approach suggest that the probability of distress would be greater for small intermediaries. But the authors find that proportionately fewer small intermediaries were distressed than were large intermediaries. They offer two hypothetical explanations for this unexpected result: 1) Exchange rate exposure - a major shock to Korean intermediaries - was presumably negligible for the small financial intermediaries. 2) Small financial intermediaries allocated loans better, because of the"peer monitoring"natural to their mutual nature and deep local roots. Available data did not allow the authors to test the first hypothesis, but they did find support for the second one. Estimating a logit model, they find that the probability of distress was systematically smaller for the mutual savings and finance companies that stayed closer to their origins (for example, collecting many deposits as"credit mutual installment savings") and for those with a longer history of doing business in their local community.

Suggested Citation

  • Bongini, Paola & Ferri, Giovanni & Tae Soo Kang, 2000. "Financial intermediary distress in the Republic of Korea - Small is beautiful?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2332, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2332

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Timothy Chue & David Cook, 2004. "Sudden Stops and Liability Dollarization: Evidence from East Asian Financial Intermediaries," Econometric Society 2004 Far Eastern Meetings 646, Econometric Society.
    2. Chue, Timothy K. & Cook, David, 2008. "Sudden stops and liability dollarization: Evidence from Asia's financial intermediaries," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 436-452, September.
    3. Piruna Polsiri & Kingkarn Sookhanaphibarn, 2009. "Corporate Distress Prediction Models Using Governance and Financial Variables: Evidence from Thai Listed Firms during the East Asian Economic Crisis," Journal of Economics and Management, College of Business, Feng Chia University, Taiwan, vol. 5(2), pages 273-304, July.
    4. Chaiyasit Anuchitworawong, 2010. "The Value of Principles-Based Governance Practices and the Attenuation of Information Asymmetry," Asia-Pacific Financial Markets, Springer;Japanese Association of Financial Economics and Engineering, vol. 17(2), pages 171-207, June.
    5. Shih, Victor & Zhang, Qi & Liu, Mingxing, 2007. "Comparing the performance of Chinese banks: A principal component approach," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 15-34.


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