Crony banking and local growth in China
Wang, Chunyang (12.05.2017)
JulkaisusarjaBOFIT Discussion Papers
JulkaisijaBank of Finland
Julkaisun pysyvä osoite onhttps://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:bof-201705121292
The rise of city commercial banks (CCBs) in Chinese cities provides a unique opportunity to study the finance and growth nexus at the city level. Given the notorious inefficiency of China's “Big Four” state banks, policymakers attempted to correct the situation in 1995 through the creation of a new kind of local bank designed to promote local growth by lending to small and medium-sized enterprises. Using 1990-2009 panel data for 283 prefectural-level cities and four provincial-status municipalities, we find that the establishment of CCBs significantly reduced local economic growth overall. We suggest this outcome stems from the ability of firms to bribe local government officials to obtain credit from their local CCBs. In our proposed model for crony banking relations, large firms spend disproportionately larger amounts of time and bribe money cultivation relations with local officials involved in CCB lending decisions, so we expect large firms to have easier access to credit than small firms even if it results in inefficient lending. Using data on 206,771 firms for 1999-2007, we find that cities with CCBs had significantly lower overall growth rates. Small firms, in particular, were negatively impacted by the presence of CCBs, while large firms benefited from their presence. In the cities with CCBs, large firms, even those with relatively poor return-on-assets ratios, obtained more credit than small firms in aggregate. Using data from the 2005 World Bank Business Environment Survey, we find that an increase in a firm's crony relations with the government, measured in terms of the average number of days a month top managers of the firm spend interacting with government officials, increases the likelihood a firm will be granted bank credit. This effect was quite distinct for cities with CCBs.