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Banking crises in transition economies : fiscal costs and related issues


  • Tang, Helena
  • Zoli, Edda
  • Klytchnikova, Irina


The authors look at strategies for dealing with banking crises in 12 transition economies -- five from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE): Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, and Poland; the three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; and four countries from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS): Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Ukraine. Three types of strategies were used to deal with the crises. The CEE countries generally pursued extensive restructuring and recapitalizing of banks; most CIS countries pursued large-scale liquidation; and the Baltic states generally pursued a combination of liquidation and restructuring. The strategy pursued reflected macroeconomic conditions and the level of development in a country's banking sector. There were more new banks in the former Soviet Union (FSU-the CIS and Baltic states), but they tended to be small, undercapitalized, and not deeply engaged in financial intermediation. The CEE countries generally incurred higher fiscal costs than the FSU countries but ended up with sounder, more efficient banking systems, with many of the recapitalized banks being privatized to strategic foreign investors. The CIS countries pursued a less fiscally costly approach but have been left with weak banking systems and low levels of intermediation. The Baltic states appear to have struck a good balance, incurring modest fiscal costs while making their systems sounder and more efficient. The findings suggest the following: a) Operational, financial, and institutional restructuring should be undertaken in parallel. b) Financial restructuring should involve adequate recapitalization to deter moral hazard and repeated recapitalization. c) Operational restructuring should entail privatization to core investors (particularly to reputable foreign banks). d) The enterprise problems underlying banking problems must also be addressed. e) Fiscal costs were reduced when governments dealt only with bad debt inherited from the socialist period; when small banks that held few deposits were allowed to fail, where the social costs of such failure were low; and when only banks that got into trouble because of external shocks were rescued while those suffering from poor management were liquidated. f) The government, not the central bank, should undertake bank restructuring. Central bank refinancing is not transparent and could lead to hyperinflation.

Suggested Citation

  • Tang, Helena & Zoli, Edda & Klytchnikova, Irina, 2000. "Banking crises in transition economies : fiscal costs and related issues," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2484, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2484

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Koivu, Tuuli, 2002. "Do efficient banking sectors accelerate economic growth in transition countries?," BOFIT Discussion Papers 14/2002, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    2. Erik Berglof & Patrick Bolton, 2002. "The Great Divide and Beyond: Financial Architecture in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 77-100, Winter.
    3. Sabine Herrmann & Adalbert Winkler, 2009. "Financial markets and the current account: emerging Europe versus emerging Asia," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 145(3), pages 531-550, October.
    4. Mohamed Ariff & Luc Can, 2009. "IMF Bank-Restructuring Efficiency Outcomes: Evidence from East Asia," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 35(2), pages 167-187, April.
    5. World Bank, 2004. "Serbia and Montenegro : An Agenda for Economic Growth and Employment," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14487, The World Bank.
    6. Alfred Steinherr & Ali Tukel & Murat Ucer, 2004. "The Turkish Banking Sector, Challenges and Outlook in Transition to EU Membership," Bruges European Economic Policy Briefings 9, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
    7. Mamatzakis, Emmanuel & Staikouras, Christos & Koutsomanoli-Filippaki, Anastasia, 2008. "Bank efficiency in the new European Union member states: Is there convergence?," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 1156-1172, December.
    8. Koutsomanoli-Filippaki, Anastasia & Margaritis, Dimitris & Staikouras, Christos, 2009. "Efficiency and productivity growth in the banking industry of Central and Eastern Europe," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 557-567, March.
    9. Distinguin, Isabelle & Kouassi, Tchudjane & Tarazi, Amine, 2013. "Interbank deposits and market discipline: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 544-560.
    10. Olaf Unteroberdoerster, 2004. "Banking Reform in the Lower Mekong Countries," IMF Policy Discussion Papers 04/5, International Monetary Fund.
    11. Kudrna, Zdenek, 2007. "Banking reform in China: Driven by international standards and Chinese specifics," MPRA Paper 7320, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Gerald A. McDermott, 2003. "Institutional Change and Firm Creation in East-Central Europe: An Embedded Politics Approach," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-590, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    13. Gerald A. McDermott, 2004. "The Politics of Institutional Learning and Creation: Bank Crises and Supervision in East Central Europe," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp726, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.


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