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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
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Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2000-261
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  1. 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.
  2. Olivier Blanchard & Michael Kremer, 1997. "Disorganization," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 38, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  3. Berglof Erik & Roland Gerard, 1995. "Bank Restructuring and Soft Budget Constraints in Financial Transition," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 354-375, December.
  4. Guillermo Calvo & Fabrizio Coricelli, 1992. "Output Collapse in Eastern Europe; The Role of Credit," IMF Working Papers 92/64, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  6. 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.
  7. Lawrence J. Lau & Yingyi Qian & Gerard Roland, 2000. "Reform without Losers: An Interpretation of China's Dual-Track Approach to Transition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 120-143, February.
  8. Yuanzheng Cao & Yingyi Qian & Barry R. Weingast, 1997. "From Federalism, Chinese Style, to Privatization, Chinese Style," Working Papers 97049, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  9. Haizhou Huang & Chenggang Xu, 2000. "Financial Institutions, Financial Contagion, and Financial Crises," IMF Working Papers 00/92, International Monetary Fund.
  10. Mathias Dewatripont & Eric Maskin, 2004. "Credit and efficiency in centralized and decentralized economies," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/9605, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  11. Roland, G. & Verdier, T., 1997. "Transition and the Output Fall," DELTA Working Papers 97-09, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  12. Qian, Yingyi & Roland, Gerard, 1998. "Federalism and the Soft Budget Constraint," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1143-62, December.
  13. 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.
  14. Neher, Darwin V, 1999. "Staged Financing: An Agency Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 255-74, April.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Ilya R. Segal, 1998. "Monopoly and Soft Budget Constraint," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 29(3), pages 596-609, Autumn.
  20. 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.
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