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Decentralized Financing, Centralized Financing and the Dual Track System: Toward a New Theory of Soft Budget Constraints

  • Jiahua Che

I put forward a new theoretical framework to analyze the relationship between soft budget constraint syndrome and the economic performances of firms. It differs from the existing theoretical framework, à la Dewatripont and Maskin (1995), in the soft budget constraint literature. In this paper, soft budget constraint syndrome arises when firms that are expected to lose money are financed. The paper highlights a trade-off between hard and soft budget constraints. While soft budget constraints may compromise firms' incentives to improve performances, an all-out effort to harden budget constraints may put macro stability at risk, especially for economies suffering from allocative inefficiency. Based on this trade-off, the paper shows that a transition from centralized financing to decentralized financing in fact compromises firms' incentives to improve their performances, whereas a transition from centralized financing to a dual track system enhances efficiency. In the dual track system, budget constraints are soft in the centralized track but the macro stability of the economy is assured as a result. The macro stability enhances the disciplinary effect of hard budget constraints in the decentralized track, which in turn promotes firms' incentives to improve performances. The paper sheds light on a complementary relation between soft budget constraint syndrome in the state sector (i.e., the centralized track) and the remarkable growth of the non-state sector (i.e., the decentralized track) in China.

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Paper provided by William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan in its series William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series with number 261.

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Length: pages
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2000-261
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  1. Mathias Dewatripont & Eric Maskin, 2004. "Credit and efficiency in centralized and decentralized economies," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9605, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Lawrence J. Lau & Yingyi Qian & Gerald Roland, 1997. "Reform Without Losers: An Interpretation of China's Dual-Track Approach to Transition," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 137, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. Roland, G. & Verdier, T., 1997. "Transition and the Output Fall," DELTA Working Papers 97-09, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  4. McMillan, John & Naughton, Barry, 1992. "How to Reform a Planned Economy: Lessons from China," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 130-43, Spring.
  5. Yuanzheng Cao & Yingyi Qian & Barry R. Weingast, 1997. "From Federalism, Chinese Style to Privatization, Chinese style," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 126, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  6. Blanchard, Olivier & Kremer, Michael R., 1997. "Disorganization," Scholarly Articles 3659691, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Berglöf, Erik & Roland, Gérard, 1995. "Bank Restructuring and Soft Budget Constraints in Financial Transition," CEPR Discussion Papers 1250, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Huang, H. & Xu, C., 2000. "Financial Institutions, Financial Contagion, and Financial Crises," Papers 21, Chicago - Graduate School of Business.
  9. Yingyi Qian & Gerard Roland, . "Federalism and the Soft Budget Constraint," Working Papers 97045, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  10. Goldfeld, Stephen M. & Quandt, Richard E., 1988. "Budget constraints, bailouts, and the firm under central planning," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 502-520, December.
  11. Lindbeck, Assar & Weibull, Jorgen W, 1988. "Altruism and Time Consistency: The Economics of Fait Accompli," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1165-82, December.
  12. Guillermo Calvo & Fabrizio Coricelli, 1992. "Output Collapse in Eastern Europe; The Role of Credit," IMF Working Papers 92/64, International Monetary Fund.
  13. Ilya R. Segal, 1998. "Monopoly and Soft Budget Constraint," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(3), pages 596-609, Autumn.
  14. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  15. Guofu Tan & Justin Yifu Lin, 1999. "Policy Burdens, Accountability, and the Soft Budget Constraint," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 426-431, May.
  16. Neher, Darwin V, 1999. "Staged Financing: An Agency Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 255-74, April.
  17. Maskin, Eric & Xu, Cheng-Gang, 2001. "Soft Budget Constraint Theories: From Centralization to the Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 2715, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Berglof, Erik & Roland, Gerard, 1997. "Soft budget constraints and credit crunches in financial transition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 807-817, April.
  19. Berglof, Erik & Roland, Gerard, 1998. "Soft Budget Constraints and Banking in Transition Economies," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 18-40, March.
  20. Sachs, Jeffrey D., 1996. "Notes on the life cycle of state-led industrialization," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 153-174, June.
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