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Beyond legal origin and checks and balances : political credibility, citizen information, and financial sector development

  • Keefer, Philip

The existing literature emphasizes and contrasts the role of political checks and balances and legal origin in determining the pace of financial sector development. This paper expands substantially on one aspect of this debate: the fact that government actions that promote financial sector development, whether prudent financial regulation or secure property and contract rights, are public goods and sensitive to political incentives to provide public goods. Tests of hypotheses emanating from this argument yield four new conclusions. First, two key determinants of those incentives-the credibility of pre-electoral political promises and citizen information about politician decisions-systematically promote financial sector development. Second, these political factors, along with political checks and balances, operate in part through their influence on the security of property rights, an argument asserted but not previously tested. Third, contrary to findings elsewhere in the literature, the political determinants of financial sector development are significant even in the presence of controls for legal origin. Finally, and again in contrast to the literature, the evidence here suggests that legal origin primarily proxies for political phenomena. Legal origin is a largely insignificant determinant of financial sector development whenthose phenomena are fully taken into account.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4154.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2007
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4154
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  1. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, . "Law and Finance," Working Paper 19451, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  2. Kroszner, Randall S & Strahan, Philip E, 1996. " Regulatory Incentives and the Thrift Crisis: Dividends, Mutual-to-Stock Conversions, and Financial Distress," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 51(4), pages 1285-1319, September.
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  4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
  5. Kroszner, Randall S & Stratmann, Thomas, 1998. "Interest-Group Competition and the Organization of Congress: Theory and Evidence from Financial Services' Political Action Committees," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1163-87, December.
  6. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini & Francesco Trebbi, 2001. "Electoral Rules and Corruption," NBER Working Papers 8154, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal Of Fortune: Geography And Institutions In The Making Of The Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294, November.
  8. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 1999. "A new database on financial development and structure," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2146, The World Bank.
  9. Charles W. Calomiris & Eugene N. White, 1994. "The Origins of Federal Deposit Insurance," NBER Chapters, in: The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy, pages 145-188 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. White, Eugene, 1995. "Deposit insurance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1541, The World Bank.
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