The Case of the Missing Market: The Bond Market and Why It Matters for Financial Development
Over the last decade interest in the role of finance in economic growth has revived. Building from the pioneering work of Goldsmith (1965) and the insights of Shaw (1973) and McKinnon (1973), the more recent work examines the role of financial institutions and financial markets in corporate governance and the consequent implications for economic growth and development. Levine (1997) and Stulz (2000) have provided excellent reviews of this literature and Allen and Gale (2000) have extended it by developing a framework for comparing bank-based financial systems with market-based financial systems. Although the literature addresses "capital markets," on closer inspection the main focus is really equity markets. Bond markets are almost completely overlooked. Although the omission of the bond market is not defended in the literature, one could argue that it does little violence to reality. As Table 1 shows, in most emerging economies in Asia, bond markets are very small relative to the banking system or equity markets. Moreover, the most striking theoretical results flow from a comparison of debt contracts with equity contracts and at a high level of abstraction bank lending can proxy for all debt. In any event, data are much more readily available for equity markets and the banking system than for bond markets, even in the United States.
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